A cinema at Save the Children’s space

Tuesday 25 April 2017

The queue outside the tent stretched longer with forty-eight children standing, mostly on toes, on the doorstep. As they waited to hear their name and embark on the next action, they craned their neck forward with eager anticipation.

Names checked and spots taken, the lights went off, a sign that entertainment was about to start.

‘Finding Nemo,’ the popular Disney adventure film, was watched by children across Save the Children’s Child-Friendly Spaces, run by the Child Protection team in Bekaa. The scene looked like a mini-cinema, complete with popcorn and beverages, a projected screen and themed decorations.

The originality of the idea to bring the entertaining show to the tent was inspired by the children themselves, as Pamela Hajal, Child Protection Manager at Save the Children Bekaa office, explained.

‘’It is very important to listen to children and understand what they want,’’ she said. ‘’We asked them to tell us what they would like to do. One suggestion was to watch a movie. So we brought our own cinema to the settlement. As you can see, children are having the same excitement you have in a cinema.’’

Total silence dominated for the majority of the next two hours, only broken by the oohs and the giggles of children.

Tala* said there was a lesson she took from watching the movie.

‘’The fish lost her way because he didn’t listen to his dad,’’ the 6-year-old suggested. ‘’I have learnt that we take our parents’ advice. I am happy she was able to return home again.’’

Entertainment as an educational tool has for long been a principal element in Save the Children’s projects. For anyone, watching a movie with friends and family is something often taken for granted. But for Syrian children, life at informal settlement hardly offers a breather.

The cinematic event marked the end of a Child Protection Psychosocial Support programme in the area, supported by the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Mihira Japan. In two sites, Save the Children reached 241 vulnerable children in tailored recreational activities which boosted their self-confidence and helped them overcome distressing conditions.

‘’Our psychosocial support activities are implemented with a specific goal,’’ said Hajal. ‘’Children learn how to protect themselves, understand their surroundings and communicate with each other.’’

As ‘The End’ flashed on the blue screen, children clapped in unanimous approval. Gift unwrapping followed shortly, as everyone took turn to pose for photos in the life-size frames, capping off an event that will likely stay in their memory for a long time.


*Name changed for protection