Around the world, millions of women, children and men are forced to flee their homes, their communities, their countries. They find themselves in tent cities filled with others also escaping danger and desperation. No one asks to be born in areas where violence and persecution prevail. No one wants to raise children who are terrified of a bomb dropping on their home. No one dreams of living in an economy so depressed that no one can afford to buy food to dampen the hunger in their empty bellies.
No one purposely chooses these situations to be born into, to raise their children or to make their homes. But it happens. And we see the impact this has on children. On women. On people. On our fellow humans. That’s why we help. That’s why we NEED to help.
Heart to Heart International has been sending supplies and hygiene items to refugees in some of the most precarious positions of the world for years. We simply could not just look away.
While traditionally known for providing disaster relief, Heart to Heart International’s mission has always been to create a healthier world, and this includes mental health. Children constitute 51 percent of refugees, and these children have been traumatized by the loss of their homes, their communities and even their families. Research shows that play is critical to physical, social, and emotional development, especially for kids living in challenging circumstances.
“We have been providing humanitarian aid in the form of medicines, hygiene supplies and tents for years, but that still was not addressing the fundamental need for these children to be children. These children are living in tremendously difficult conditions for the sole reason that they were born in a particular part of the world. We are not going to ignore the needs of these children,” Mitchum said.
In March of 2018, HHI sent 500 unpoppable soccer balls from One World Play Project to a refugee camp in Syria. These ultra-durable balls are perfect for the difficult and harsh conditions children face in refugee camps.
“For refugee youth and adults living in exile, play builds community, empowers individuals, creates joy and helps keep hope and optimism alive,” Lisa Tarver, co-founder and chief impact officer, One World Play Project, said.
The average duration of exile for refugees is more than a decade.
“It has been proven that play improves mental and emotional well-being, especially in those who have experienced trauma. With these unpoppable soccer balls, these children, many of whom cannot remember a time where they didn’t live in a refugee camp, have the chance to play and receive all the benefits that play provides,” Mitchum said. “If sending One World Futbols across the ocean helps these children deal with their situations, how could we not do it?”
The balls were received with much enthusiasm, and immediately after the balls were unpacked, the children began PLAYING.
The shipment was such a success, HHI wants to send more balls to more children in more refugee camps. Help us continue giving children a chance to be kids.