Freeza and her son, Abdel-Latif, left Syria when her parents’ house came under fire. Her cousins and brother were killed in the attack.
Unsurprisingly, witnessing the incident has had an impact on Abdel-Latif’s psychological state, causing him to become isolated and introverted.
“My son is easily spooked by loud noises and sudden movements,” Freeza said tearfully. “He refuses to sit away from me no matter where we go, and refuses to leave the house on his own. Any attempt to force him to do something he does not want to do is met with a very violent reaction, along with threats to throw himself off the balcony.”
Freeza believes Ensan’s remedial classes and psychosocial support are helping her son deal with his ordeal, and gradually she is noticing a shift in his mindset.
“When it is time for the remedial classes, Abdel-Latif is noticeably joyful,” she said. “He enjoys being there.”
“Children have been badly affected by the violence they witnessed in Syria and by the separation of their families,” said Yousry, a consultant psychotherapist at Ensan. “Most are lacking a sense of safety.”
Yousry creates recreational activities to encourage them to interact and play with each other, which in turn helps them to express themselves.
Involving those children in integration exercises with their Egyptian peers gives them a sense of belonging in their strange new surroundings.
“Many Syrians can’t adapt because they are living in closed communities and not mingling enough with others,” he said. “They are often introverted, which shows they have endured a horrible experience, and they can feel unaccepted by Egyptians who perceive them to be occupying their land.”