Migrant children get a break at play center 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
Lexile

As thousands of refugees wait long hours to cross the Greece-Macedonia border to head to more prosperous northern European countries, some respite is on offer for the youngest.
 
Charities have set up a children's play center, which is operational 24 hours a day, in the Idomeni, Greece camp, where children can watch cartoons or draw to pass the time while their parents wait for their family's turn to cross the border.
 
"We try to occupy the children, care for infants and also identify unaccompanied minors so efforts can begin to reunite them with their families," said Alexis Vrahnos, local coordinator of the Arsis charity that set up the play center in cooperation with Save the Children and Terre Des Hommes.
 
The play center is staffed round the clock by a psychologist, a teacher, two interpreters and a nurse.
 
Sitting at one table is 5-year-old Alman from Kobani, Syria, along with his two brothers. He proudly holds up the picture he's been drawing.
 
"It's 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 perilous journey that has cost many lives as overcrowded dinghies or wooden boats capsize or sink.
 
"We had a difficult journey in the sea until we reached Mytilene," he says, referring to 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 didn't want to give a surname for fear of persecution of relatives back home.
 
Two sisters from the Syrian city of Hama, 4-year-old Sofia and her 3-year-old sister Lilas, as well as their three cousins, sit at the next table. 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?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (8)
  • jordynd-day
    11/14/2015 - 12:47 a.m.

    I think this is very important because the whole thing is probably very life changing for the kids. They had to be taken out of their homes and travel to an unknown place. The kids are probably really scared. Doing this may help ease the pain. A little goes a long way.

  • julianc-bag
    11/16/2015 - 11:43 p.m.

    Yes I think that coloring and watching cartoons/movies is a good way to get children's minds off of their parents and other family members.

  • meganm-lam
    11/18/2015 - 09:29 a.m.

    While looking at the situation these refugees are faced with, one can often forget that many of the refugees are children, and are skipping valuable parts of their childhood to come to these new countries. These children have been forced to grow up faster than other children in America, or first-world countries would. This diversion allows refugee children to forget about their outside troubles and live a normal childhood.

  • madelinep-lam
    11/18/2015 - 11:39 a.m.

    This article warmed my heart. It's awesome to see people caring for refugees. I love that they seem to take care of the kids well, every child deserves a chance at a good life.

  • laurenc-bag
    11/19/2015 - 08:18 p.m.

    It is especially important and crucial AND necessary for kids to have a diversion from all the horrible things they're going through, so they could have a little fun and forget about how terrible things that are going on, because they are only little children, and they shouldn't be scarred so soon.

  • laurenc-bag
    11/19/2015 - 08:21 p.m.

    Also, "respite" means "diversion from something unpleasant."

  • laurenc-bag
    11/19/2015 - 08:24 p.m.

    Also, "respite" means "a diversion from something unpleasant", basically. :)

  • mirandaf-pay
    12/08/2015 - 10:58 a.m.

    It's very important to provide recreation and accommodate these children who are immigrating, because many of them are very young and become hardened prematurely from the things they have to endure.

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