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Masoud, 9 years old,
can play with other children at the Terre des hommes centre.

In Tdh’s protected area, children can play without worrying about earning money for their families.

On 3 September 2016, a member of Tdh’s child protection team in Tikrit (Iraq) saw a child collecting damaged electric cables. Masoud*, who is 9 years old, collects empty tins to earn money for his family. He is paid CHF 0.30 per can.

Marwa*, a social worker for Terre des hommes (Tdh), visited Masoud’s family to speak with them. However, she had trouble convincing them that Masoud should stop working. Negotiations were difficult. Masoud’s mother asked how they would live without the money Masoud brought in. Marwa explained the risks Masoud faced working in the street – being recruited by militia, being abused, suffering health problems and more. Marwa’s arguments swayed the family.

On 7 September, Masoud visited Tdh’s protected area for children for the first time, taking part in fun and educational activities. He enjoyed his time there and made several new friends. From then on, he visited every second day, taking part in drawing, singing and sports activities with instructors. He also participated in Arabic, mathematics and English classes. During this time, he learned how to be a child again and stopped worrying about earning money for his family. He received psychosocial support, which allowed him to gain distance from his family’s problems.

On 1 October, Marwa overcame another challenge. She met with the headmaster of the public school, who had refused to enrol Masoud. Enrolling displaced children is difficult because schools are full and have no resources for reintegrating children who have dropped out of the school system. After Tdh insisted, the headmaster agreed to enrol Masoud.

Shortly afterwards, Masoud began classes and learnt how to write his name. His teachers say he is a good student. In addition, his father has found work which allows him to provide for the family.

*Not real names.

Photo credit: © Tdh/Peter Kaeser