In Iraq, Children Are Agents of Peace
Many conflicts between kids, like teasing or bullying, can quickly escalate to physical confrontations between their adult families. This means that, oftentimes, conflict between children can risk the safety of an entire displacement camp if it gets out of hand.
But conflict between children does not have to escalate, children can be agents of peace. So, when the community turned to NP for support, the NP team got to work designing a specialized curriculum for the children. By forming a Children's Peace Club, boys and girls learned problem-solving, conflict resolution, bullying intervention, and community storytelling. NP even helped the children's group design their very own club logo!
A total of 40 kids (20 boys and 20 girls) ages 12-16 participated in the Children's Peace Club. These children come from diverse backgrounds: children with disabilities, children from lower-income families, children who can't access formal education, and children who don't have legal documents.
Change for Children and their Families
Throughout the trainings and after their completion, the children's families expressed how pleased they are with the positive changes in their children.
Ahmed's Character Growth
One child, Ahmed*, previously bullied classmates to the point where he was nearly expelled from school. He was also guilty of verbally harassing women in the camp. Since joining the Children's Peace Club, Ahmed's sister and aunt report seeing tremendous positive character growth in him.
His family notes that Ahmed's sense of responsibility to share his learnings with others in the camp has made a big impact. They explained that, whenever Ahmed returns home from the sessions, he's always excited to share everything he's learned with his family.
“I am very happy that I am a part of the Children’s Peace Club and I can’t wait for the day of the graduation ceremony for our group and start practicing what we have learned and share it with other children.”-Ahmed, Member of the Boys’ Children’s Peace Club
Fatema's Newfound Skills and Confidence
Fatema*, a young girl, looked forward to joining the Children's Peace Club from the moment she heard about it. Her mother then encouraged her to attend the sessions—she trusted NP and was familiar with the staff, so she knew Fatema would be in a safe place during the trainings.
But, Fatema's mother shared that, more importantly: “I want my daughter to have more confidence in herself and I can tell how positively it's affected her. I’m happy with my decision and grateful for the opportunity my daughter had and I’m sure this will benefit her in the future.” Now, Fatema is using her confidence to make a difference for herself, her family, and her community.
“Before attending the sessions with NP, I used to spend most of my time inside the tent doing nothing but house chores and studying. That’s why I’m so happy that I was part of the Children’s Peace Club because I got the chance to do something useful, learn new interesting things and make new friends. I learnt a lot about child’s rights and gained a lot of personal skills like problem solving. I’m looking forward to when the peace club officially starts so that my other friends can benefit from all the information and experiences I’ve gained.”-Fatema, Member of the Girls’ Children’s Peace Club
Mohammed's Inner Peace
A young boy named, Mohammed*, used to be very aggressive with his younger siblings and occasionally hit or beat them. However, since attending the sessions, he’s stopped using physical violence against them. Mohammed's grandmother noticed character development and maturity in her grandson.
Her grandmother proudly expressed, "Mohammed's behavior change has made me so happy and grateful that he is a part of the Children’s Peace Club with NP!” She also shared that Mohammed has become much more peaceful in his daily life and spends more time meaningfully bonding with his family, a point which his teachers seconded.
“I loved attending the sessions because they were all discussing interesting and new techniques that I never knew like about problem solving and risk mapping. For instance, one time I saw some children were playing in the dark next to an electrical box and were climbing the fence and jumping off it. Because of the risk mapping session, I advised them to leave this area and play somewhere else because they might get hurt.”-Mohammed, Member of the Boys’ Children’s Peace Club
Nour's Motivation and Empowerment
Another young girl, Nour*, wasn't very active and often had little energy before joining the Children's Peace Club. But, since becoming a member of the club, Nour's mother observed Nour's increase in motivation and positivity.
Nour's mother expressed, “we’re proud of her because we believe girls have rights just as boys and she needed this push to gain more confidence.” Nour has also begun discovering her own agency, despite often being told she didn't have any as a child—and a girl.
"I used to be very pessimistic and think that there’s no hope for humanity, but now I have a more optimistic view of life. I feel more responsible now, because if I want the community to be better, I need to do something about it and NP helped me with that. I started to intervene when there are any conflicts between my friends. I defend any girl who’s being bullied and try to stop any bullying and understand where this behavior is coming from and offer to assist and help.”-Nour, Member of the Girls’ Children’s Peace Club
What's Next for the Children's Peace Club?
Since its inauguration, the Children’s Peace Club has joined NP staff in activities, championing protection practices among children, and showing their support of NP’s programming in Jeddah 5 IDP Camp.
Children have even begun seeking guidance from NP in-between their weekly sessions to help with responding to classmate dilemmas at school. Officers also found themselves supporting children who were being bullied and having open conversations about why bullying is unacceptable.
The club members have invited 20 other children from all the camp’s sectors to join in an introductory engagement and outreach with other children.
With your support, going forward, NP will continue to coach the Children's Peace Club and extend support with the training of its newest members. Later, as the children's confidence grows and develops, they will join NP for discussions and events with parents, teachers, and the wider community to be advocates for children’s concerns in the camp.
*Names changed to protect the identities of the children involved.