Fight the invisible virus

By: Catri Foot

There was a little girl who was afraid of the mask because of the wrong idea – the mask leads to death. She cried whenever she saw someone wear a mask, but we explained why we wear the mask and the benefits of it with the use of colours and drawings of masks. She then accepted the idea of the mask and wanted to wear it.”

Around the spring of 2011 a series of pro-democracy uprisings occurred in several largely Muslim countries, including Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain. This came to later be known as the Arab Spring. In Syria it provoked a civil war in its aftermath,  forcing many to leave the country to seek refuge in Turkey, Greece, and throughout Western Europe. 

Young people of Syria have grown up around so much war and destruction that when the invisible virus came, masks seemed terrifying – a reminder of the traumas of war, a symbol of death.

Our trainers experienced many challenges in convincing the children that these masks didn’t represent a fight against a hugely destructive enemy but could protect from the invisible one, Covid-19. They did this in the form of a series of workshops around twice a month.

One exercise involved the use of sticky notes to enable the children to share their emotions with each other. Allowing the children a safe space to express their feelings and an opportunity to open the dialogue of their concerns about the virus and the world around them.

The second activity involved designing and creating paper masks with the children to further highlight that the mask was nothing to be fearful of.

Muhammed, a Capoeira trainer describes his experience,

“The children found a safe and shared space between them and the coaches. Some coaches drew a house, whilst others drew trees, flowers, sun and clouds to express a children’s love for nature. Other coaches also drew instruments like Agogo and Bandero, as well as writing some Capoeira songs.”