Batoul’s Story

Batoul was just seven when she escaped on foot from the war in Syria with her family. She had witnessed friends and neighbours die as a result of starvation and a lack of access to clean water in the conflict zone. The trauma cause by what she had seen in her village was compounded by having to leave her home and all the family’s possessions behind. Despite crossing the border and reaching the safety of Jordan the family’s problems continued as her father went into a spiral of decline and started drinking. When she came to the Sir Bobby Charlton Centre in the Jordanian capital of Amman she was withdrawn and quiet. She did not want to engage with the otherchildren and preferred to play & paint alone. Her shyness was also affecting her ability to learn at school. She did however show artistic talent and was able to express her feelings through her art. Slowly she started to emerge from her depression and became more active in the art therapy sessions she was attending. Overtime she even began helping other children with their art and began to show natural leadership skills. As a result she was selected by Sir Bobby Charlton Centre staff to take part in a youth leadership training programme and she passed with flying colours. Dr. Niveen Abu Zaid, who runs the art therapy project, said that Batoul had worked so hard to overcome her trauma and the fact that she is now supporting other children out in the community was a tribute to her determination and personal resilience. As part of her community work she has set up a group of young people to help support other lonely and vulnerable refugees. Today she is much more settled at school and in her home life. Since the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown in Jordan Batoul has been continuing her studies at home so, like all the children, she jumped at the chance to paint a Sir Bobby Charlton themed rainbow for The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation Covid-19 emergency appeal. Her rainbow was chosen from dozens produced by refugee children for its visually striking symbol of hope for vulnerable people around the world and its life saving message for everyone to stay at home in order to protect themselves from the virus.