Oasis of Resilience

The Al-Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan; the picture illustrates the living condition in the camp. January 2014. image: Malda Takieddine
The Al-Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan; the picture illustrates the living condition in the camp. January 2014.
image: Malda Takieddine

Healing and Empowering Syrian Children in the Za’atari Refugee Camp

In the midst of refugee camps and suffering from difficult journeys necessitated by war, Syrian children suffer from traumas, uncertainty and unhealthy environments for their growth. Early adversarial exposures can change the development of the brain and can lead to subsequent psychological problems that make it harder for children to effectively immerse themselves in the education process as they grow. A close look at most refugee camps around the world reveals constraints in physical environments that impose and limit the natural development of children.

This post is a summary of a thesis project titled “Oasis of Resilience.” This thesis examined the Al-Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan, which is home to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees, and proposed a design to better the environment for children in general.

Within this camp, children constitute over half of the population, yet there are few designated places to escape the camp’s stressful life and to provide safety. Safety and respite from harsh conditions are essential to childhood development. However, in order to support children to overcome their trauma and empower them to move forward, design thinking should be integrated to enrich the few opportunities they have.

The goal as landscape architects was to redesign Za’atari’s children’s places around experiences that enable them to develop necessary skills, which strengthen their resilience and support their natural growth needs. “Oasis of Resilience” is a project that aims to enhance design content and implications with an increased understanding of child development, psychology and pedagogy science. The project highlights  relationships between children’s health and design and identifies needed facilitator parties in creating children’s places in refugee camps.

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