While travelling through southern Turkey and northern Syria for a series I was producing for Chile’s national public television, I was struck by the amount of children everywhere. Being a South American reporter, I am used to poverty, social conflicts and inequality, but this turned to be far more painful experience than anything I was ready for. So many children have been killed, hurt or have had to leave their homes during the over three years of war.
As we were about to cross over to the region around Aleppo one morning, we were delayed. We bought paper and crayons, went over to the Kilis 1 UN camp, and asked kids to draw images of their country. They all drew moments of war. When we asked them to tell us what they had drawn, some were not able to speak, but their drawings and faces said it all.
“I drew this picture because this is what our life has been like during the war. This is my most hated memory of Syria. I drew it because I saw all my siblings dying in front of me. It hurts a lot. I wanted to draw it and show it to everyone so they know everything that is happening to us. We ask for help from the world. Many children died in front of me. We want to live with dignity.”
“Here are two schools and a mosque. The planes are bombing schools and soldiers are beating those who pray. They are killing the people.”
“I drew a plane bombing houses. I love my country and I miss it a lot.”
“My name is Amani, I made this drawing because I love my country. Very very much. They bombed our city and our people. They started bombing from planes.”
“When the revolution began, they destroyed our mosque and we were not allowed to study. Then the war came and it has continued until today. This drawing is when Syrian people demonstrated peacefully. Now, because of the explosions, the birds have left.”
“I am drawing a house and in front of the house there was a sniper pretending to be a civilian and he is kidnapping everyone, but in reality he is a member of the regime. There is also a plane bombing people.”
“When they dropped barrel bombs on us and killed many of our martyrs who wanted freedom.”
“A plane was bombing and soldiers from the Free Syrian Army came to beat them and to stop them from bombing us and to bomb them back.”
“I made this picture to show what happens in our country. They slaughtered our children, our countrymen and burnt our house. They destroyed us. We want to live with dignity. I wish to return to my homeland. Thank you.”
“I made this drawing because I always hear the noise of tanks and every day planes come and bomb us. We hear the noise of tanks and I can never sleep in my house, because there is always bombing. I love my country and want to return to peace and security. I always wish to go back because I miss home.”
“I drew this image to talk about my country. We want to live in freedom, but we’ve been kept from achieving freedom. They are bombing and destroying everything.”