Stories have the power to inspire, teach and empower individuals through their appeal to our joint imagination. Following this idea, the IOM Psychosocial Mobile Team in Hatay organized an online storytelling activity for Syrian children to bring their own stories to light and enable them to express their thoughts and dreams freely in an unconstrained manner.
Heba was one of the participants. She is a fourteen-year-old girl from Syria who has been living in Turkey for two years. When she learned about the activity, she naturally got excited -- as it combined two of her favourite pastimes: namely drawing and thinking about stories.
The session itself contains three components: reading stories and with subsequent follow-up discussions, a storytelling lesson with practice in groups, and, finally, the creative part when children should write and share their own stories and draw illustrations.
Of course, the creative part of the session has been Heba’s favourite: While she enjoys listening to stories there’s nothing like crafting her own stories for her and here, she enjoys the whole process—starting by imagining the setting from scratch to telling her story to her friends. She loves it when her friends get excited about her stories.
Here is an example of Heba’s creativity: “Imagine a garden with flowers and trees. The plants are desperately longing for rain on a hot and dry summer day. But there is no water for our thirsty flowers. So, they ask their friend, a bird, to fly to the sky and talk to the clouds. Maybe if he upsets the clouds, they will cry and let those tears of rainfall down on our garden. So, the bird flies high and sees that clouds just want to be happy, and they do not want to cry.
At this point, Heba stops reading, smiles, and continues: “But you know, not all tears come from sadness and sorrow. Instead of making them cry, the bird makes the clouds laugh. In fact, they laugh so hard that they drop tears, but tears of laughter. And the flowers on the ground were even happier to be watered by tears of joy than tears of sorrow.”
While Heba finds a happy ending for the story she wrote, she says that she wishes a happy ending for her own story as well. She tells us that if she had a microphone that would make her voice heard all over the world, she would say: “Stop the war and live peacefully!”