A place for a new beginning. Welcoming children and young people affected by war



The project aims to support the young people and children of Aleppo who are among the most affected by the war in Syria. Most of them have traumas, relationship difficulties, speech loss, violent behavior and substance abuse.

An entire generation has therefore been profoundly marked by the scourge of war and there is deep concern for these children who will be – one day – the future of the country. It was precisely for them that it was decided to open a Franciscan Care Center rehabilitation center at the Terra Sancta College of Aleppo with the aim of responding positively to one of the many needs of society. Here each child is closely followed by a team of psychologists and educators in their rehabilitation process through various therapeutic activities such as sports, art, culture and psychological support. The children carry out activities in the afternoon divided by age into groups in the spaces used in the center (sports fields, music room, art room, etc. ..). The main objective is to allow these young people to discover their personal abilities without the traumas suffered becoming an obstacle to their growth. The rehabilitation is then reinforced by the collaboration between the team of the center, the family members of the child and the teachers of the schools that collaborate together to verify the improvements or new disorders that emerge.

The center also involves thousands of young people without distinction of culture and religion who are offered motor and recreational activities at facilities set up in the land adjacent to the Franciscan monastery, and the structure known in Aleppo as Terra Sancta College.


Support for children with trauma at the Franciscan Care Center through a rehabilitation program.
Sports and motor activities for young adolescents,


Families involved through monthly meetings with the center team
Children followed in the center

A place for a new beginning

From a testimony of fr. Firas Lutfi, promoter of the initiative

Instead of studying and playing, learning art and music, Syrian children have lost all means for normal and dignified growth due to the war. Instead of having fun and playing, they have to shut themselves up in their homes for fear of going out because death or mutilation awaits them outside or inside the house. Fear and stress, suffering from hunger and thirst, the loss of a relative or school friend. Yet we are born to live, to enjoy life and to rejoice. Faced with hunger, wars, and the drama of the suffering of the innocent, it is not enough to ask “why” all this, but “how” to make them stop and do no more harm or what can I do in front of all this? Hundreds of children were born during the war in the area of ​​Aleppo East, the most affected part of the city. No one recognizes their existence because they are considered children of terrorists (the result of a bad seed that should be eliminated!). They exist physically, but are not recognized at the registry office. Many are mutilated and disfigured. Many are orphans who live with their grandparents or minors who have to look after their even younger brothers.

What could I do? I didn’t know where to start. The complexity of the drama around me exceeds my strength.


Together with a friend of mine, Dr. Binan, one of the few psychologists left in Aleppo, we studied the first “therapeutic art” project in the Franciscan Care Center; a means to treat the most hidden traumas and injuries, through art, music, sport, theater and other activities. This center is designed as a response to the psychological emergence of children suffering from severe discomfort and stress born within a very complex and tragic context. Therefore, not a classical psychological treatment, but to give space to the development of sporting and artistic talents. It is a cure through beauty. Alongside a structure made available for various activities for this purpose, three playing fields were created (two for football and one for basketball). On the first day of opening, about 500 children, aged 7 to 17, were registered at the center. More than 2000 years later, I wish to reiterate that everything I have achieved is not because I am a hero or driven by the will to do. The real reason that prompted me to react to the drama is how I can “be close” to those who suffer, regardless of the endless questions about the reasons for suffering. I strongly believe in the proverb that says: “Instead of cursing the darkness, you light a lamp!” Finally, we must not always think about making big moves or projects to help: charity is not measured in quantity but in quality.

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Banca Popolare Etica
IBAN: IT 56 R 05018 12101 000014400444


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