The hidden wounds of war: Grief and education

Landscapes ridden with conflict, succumb to loss on many fronts. The obvious effects that are seen are extreme poverty, destroyed infrastructure, famine amongst many others. However, there are hidden wounds that are important to highlight. These are that of the trauma and grief the populations living in these circumstances have to endure. The body count that is just news to the outside world, is a loved one: a sibling, parent, friend that someone lost. The continuation of conflict mean that the people are not given the time to heal from the immense losses that they face.

The grief that conflict brings has a profound effect on children in particular. The conflict often means that education is discontinued which means that these children are often left with no outlet for relief of any sort. UNICEF’s website has an article published that highlights just this. The piece tells the story of Asreel, a little girl from Syria who had her hometown attacked and lost her father and grandfather in a short time. She tells: “Since the war started and my father died I don’t remember anything”. She expressed how the war had robbed her not just of her family but her dreams as well. Asreel’s mother homeschools Asreel in the hopes of providing some sort of safe space for children to have some aspects of a normal childhood. After her family flees to Homs, she is able to enroll in UNICEF supported remedial classes that have helped her greatly to cope with her losses. As Areel’s mother tells:

"In addition to the academic benefit, being back in school has significantly helped Arseel cope with her grief, every day she comes from school, grabs a bite and hurries to the remedial classes. Her time is well occupied and she’s bubbling with energy.”




For children left without any guardian, the elder children are often left to take care of their siblings. At an age that young, their dreams are put an end to and their responsibilities increase greatly. This is a heavy loss for these zones, in the long term as well. With children having undergone trauma of such proportions, education can be a tool for instilling a sense of normalcy in their lives and so the role of education becomes so much more important.

For children who have lost their childhood and essential years of education to such tragedies, there need to be institutes in place that are able to provide accelerated learning programs as well as counselling services for these children as well as providing a safe space for them.


Sources:

https://www.unicef.org/syria/stories/rising-grief-arseels-story

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