Children in the refugee camp in northern Iraq face many problems, but one of them is an easy fix. Because the children didn’t have anywhere to play, Samaritan’s Purse provided soccer equipment to occupy children who haven’t been able to be kids recently.
Hannah Hamrick is working as the child protection program manager with our team in northern Iraq.
Among the many challenges facing the Syrian refugees in Arbat Camp is boredom. Hundreds of children live in the camp and often find themselves at a loss for activities after school.
When Samaritan’s Purse first arrived, many of the children could be seen roaming about the camp. They would play with makeshift soccer balls, using rocks for goals, while the younger ones would perch themselves in the dirt to watch. Since our arrival, the team has set up a playground area that is continuously populated by dozens of children.
Some of the young boys then came to us to request that we install a soccer field. Of course, we couldn’t refuse. We contacted the contractor who works in the camp, asking for a price estimate to level the area beside the playground and install the goals. He told us he would let us know the cost on the following day.
When we arrived early the next morning, to our great surprise the soccer field was complete. The ground was perfectly raised and leveled; all that was missing was the goals. Honestly, I was a little alarmed that we hadn’t approved the project’s cost. I immediately found the contractor and asked why he had completed the project before even presenting us with the cost.
“We are grateful for the work that your organization is doing here in the camp, and the soccer field is our gift to you,” he said.
A few days later, the goals and nets were delivered to the camp, and the most exuberant of soccer games ensued. Since then, there is a group of boys that lives on the field. In rain, shine, or even the recent snow, you can find them engaged in the most competitive of soccer games. The team plans to employ a soccer coach and to begin a league in the camp in the coming days.