Story of hope for Syrian refugee children

Published: 16 July 2013 at 15:37

Anglia Ruskin student produces book to help youngsters affected by conflict

Children in refugee camps on the border of Syria and Turkey are being helped to come to terms with their difficult surroundings thanks to a book written and illustrated by an Anglia Ruskin University student.

Samah Zaitoun, who is studying on the MA course in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin, is originally from Syria and wanted to help youngsters who have been displaced by the conflict in her home country.

The 35-year-old has worked with Books for Syria, a national organisation that is part of the UNESCO-certified Books International project, to distribute thousands of copies of her book, Far From Home, to refugee camps on the border as well to children still living in the war-torn Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo.

Far From Home is a children’s book written in Arabic and English about optimism, resilience and a family of geese, which Samah hopes will make a difference to some very distressed and confused children.

Samah, who graduated with a Fine Art degree from the University of Damascus before moving to the UK, said:

“As an illustration student, I started thinking about making a book to somehow document what is happening in my country.  
“I then heard about a charity that was seeking a writer and illustrator to help produce a book to be distributed to the refugee children in the camps in Turkey and inside the Syrian border, and the idea took off.”

Samah combines her studies at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge with being a mother of two young children at home in Willesden Green, North London.  She added:

“The worst thing for me is seeing young children from my own country dragged into this terrible situation where they have to witness death and destruction.  
“They were forced to leave their toys, homes and schools behind as they fled to a safer place, often with only the possessions they could carry.  In many cases they have lost family members and friends.
“My main aim was to explain to the children what has happened to them and give them some positive ideas to help them adapt to their new life, as well as provide them with a much-needed escape from reality.”