Tell Me a Story was a book of illustrated short stories created by children participating in an Al Madad Foundation programme. Each was presented in the original Arabic with an English translation on the opposite page. What was achieved was an inspirational account of our pupils' individual ambitions and imaginations. 

In her introduction to the book, the Managing Director of Al Madad Foundation, Angie Garvich summed up the aim of the project:

"With the war in Syria entering its seventh year, attempting to hold constantly in your mind something that feels both seemingly endless and very far away produces a kind of mental exhaustion. After years of being presented with images of the aftermath- the death, the poverty, the illness- reports of children caught up in its horror can begin to fade into white noise.

I truly believe that for all the awareness they raise, the stories we read can after a time begin to reinforce division rather than provide motivation, highlighting what separates us when what matters most are the things that make us the same. As long as they are viewed as “other”, a complete understanding of just what survival means for Syria’s displaced children will always be out of reach. They will certainly have our sympathy, but never our empathy.

It was in an effort to address this challenge that the storybook project was born. Our education partners, Ana Aqra Association, worked with students involved in AMF programmes to create stories based on imagining their hopes and dreams for the future. What began as a simple writing exercise really opened our eyes to what they want most for themselves and their communities.
The most striking thing about the stories is that after all they have had taken from them, these children still want to give back. They are choosing to focus not on what they have lost, but on what the future can bring, and I was able to see this first hand in the face of every child that greeted me at our Children’s Learning Centre.

It is AMF’s hope that this book will illustrate that our children are no different from yours. They are happy and naughty and curious, just like yours. And they want to learn and play and feel safe, just like yours. They are no less clever because they are poor, no less loving because they have seen hate, and no less deserving because they themselves have less to give. A child is a child, whether they are in Birmingham, Berlin or Baalbek, the only difference with ours being that through no fault of their own they are forced to live in appalling conditions, at the whim of politicians and governments who will never have to look them in the eye.

Through our programmes, AMF is working to provide our students with the tools they need to create better futures for themselves and their families. I know that sometimes we all struggle to reconcile the world we want for our children with the often worrying realities we face every day, but still we continue to work in their best interests. You should want for Syria’s children the same things you want for your own- not because they are poor or hungry but because they are children and they deserve more than division and hate. They deserve to be safe, they deserve to be educated, they deserve to be happy."

To purchase a copy of the book at a cost of £15, please email [email protected]