Children watch a movie at a refugee camp near the northern Greek village of Idomeni near to southern Macedonia, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Migrant children get a break at play center
November 12, 2015
Thousands of refugees are waiting long hours. They are waiting to cross the Greece-Macedonia border. They hope to head to more wealthy northern European countries. The youngest look for something to pass the time while they wait.
Charities have set up a children's play center. It is open 24 hours a day. It is in the Idomeni, Greece camp. Children can watch cartoons or draw. They play while their parents wait for their family's turn to cross the border.
"We try to occupy the children. We care for infants. And also identify unaccompanied minors so efforts can begin to reunite them with their families," said Alexis Vrahnos. She is a local coordinator of the Arsis charity. It set up the play center along with Save the Children and Terre Des Hommes.
The play center is staffed around the clock. They have a psychologist. They have a teacher. They also have two interpreters and a nurse.
Alman from Kobani, Syria sits at one table. He is 5-years-old. He sits with his two brothers. He proudly holds up the picture he has been drawing.
"It is a child walking on water," he tells a visiting reporter.
His father Mahmoud says the family traveled to the Greek island of Lesbos from the nearby Turkish coast. It is a short but hard trip. Many lives have been lost. Overcrowded dinghies or wooden boats overturn or sink.
"We had a difficult journey in the sea until we reached Mytilene," he says. He is talking about the island's capital. "The children were all wearing life jackets. But what they lived through was terrifying. Thankfully they will quickly forget it."
He did not want to give a last name to keep his relatives back home safe.
Two sisters from the Syrian city of Hama sit at the next table. They are 4-year-old Sofia and her 3-year-old sister Lilas. They sit with their three cousins. Sofia draws a picture of flowers.
"When she sees many people, she gets very scared," said her father Mohamed Kheer. "The boys usually draw guns," he says of his three nephews. "The girls draw houses and flowers."
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it important to provide a diversion for these kids?
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