Excerpt from the story of Hiba and Saif

Trapped in Moria
At the MSF clinic just outside Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece, children who have fled war zones take part in group therapy sessions that use play, art, and storytelling to help them cope with traumatic experiences.
GREECE 2018 © Robin Hammond/Witness Change

Chapter Five: MSF tent

. . . In the MSF tent, which was a big tent with lots of children’s drawings and a colorful banner on the ceiling, there were two people, one called Pina and the other Myriam. They would talk to Hiba and Saif and helped cheer them up and forget about their worries. The whole group became good friends, and they would play, draw, and do other activities that would calm their minds and relax them. One activity they would do was called the safe space activity, where they would close their eyes and imagine a special place with their own helper that could give them advice when they ever felt angry, sad, worried, or afraid.

. . . In the MSF tent, which was a big tent with lots of children’s drawings and a colorful banner on the ceiling, there were two people, one called Pina and the other Myriam. They would talk to Hiba and Saif and helped cheer them up and forget about their worries. The whole group became good friends, and they would play, draw, and do other activities that would calm their minds and relax them. One activity they would do was called the safe space activity, where they would close their eyes and imagine a special place with their own helper that could give them advice when they ever felt angry, sad, worried, or afraid.

They also talked about nightmares in the group and how to keep them away. Saif and Hiba learned that it helps to talk about their fears and worries with someone close to them, as this is where nightmares come from. It can also help to think about happy things before sleeping at night. After this, Saif and Hiba’s nightmares were fewer and fewer.

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No health without mental health

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Chapter Six: Life after Moria

Fortunately, Saif and Hiba’s time in Moria soon came to an end. Once Saif left the island and traveled by ship to Athens, he moved on to Belgium, where he was reunited with his two aunts and his grandmother. He absolutely loved Belgium and always made sure to concentrate at school in order to get into university and study astronomy. It had been a shared dream of Saif and his uncle, who died in the war, to become an astronaut. As his uncle wasn’t able to do it, Saif was even more determined to make it happen. And sure enough, he managed to travel all the way to the moon, come back, and teach people about his discoveries in space . . . Both Hiba and Saif were very happy and proud of what they had done with their lives and realized that it was the tough experiences that they had been through that made them the wise, resilient, and patient young adults they had become.