- Dalia, 9 year-old, Palestinian girl
Children affected by war need a way to creatively express their pain through art, dance and photography. They need a way to disengage from violence by redirecting their attention to sports, games, and hobbies. They need a way to continue mentally growing by cultivating interests in books, handicrafts, and music. So, engaging a child of war is not simply making his or her life more tolerable in the worst of circumstances, but also opening a window into an alternative future -- a future where frustrations are expressed creatively rather than aggressively and creative, visionary alternatives flourish.
“I can’t imagine life without school anymore. I am awake every day by 6am and wish I could go directly to school.” - Mahmoud, an 11 year-old Syrian refugee
The Blossom Hill Foundation supports organizations that engage and empower war-affected youth as leaders in the reconstruction of their lives and their communities. Our grantee organizations use student-centered learning that encourages critical thinking and perspective-taking, artistic activities that help kids channel their feelings, capture their personal narrative and to imagine, and play-based activities that center on the values of cooperation, conflict resolution and prevention, confidence-building, stress management, and team-building. Our partners span 7 countries, supporting youth in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Ukraine (a joint program), Iran, Nicaragua, The West Bank and Gaza, and Turkey.
"I cannot believe how ignorant I was before and what a handicap such ignorance can be. There are thousands of girls like me in Iran. We must all help them. That is why I have now enrolled in law school after graduating from OMID. I will form a women’s self-help group when I get my degree." - Sima, 18 year-old Iranian girl
Blossom Hill's grantmaking criteria identifies approaches that show significant result: kids have fun, feel a sense of belonging and want to show up and participate, their anxieties decrease and their social/ emotional tendencies are better managed, and their grades improve as do kids’ attention spans since they are physically and mentally healthier.
"I feel very proud and happy. Happy because I see those kids who never get a chance to play, have fun or at least think about themselves but here [at Skateistan] they get a chance to have fun, think about their future and meet their kind teachers." - Madina, 16, Aghani Youth Leader
We are driven to do more. We are in the process of developing a new funding stream focused on peace education and early childhood development to establish healthy developmental foundations and to provide a continuum of support through our ongoing programs on youth leadership. We are crafting our strategy in partnership with the cutting edge scientific research of Yale University Child Study Center, UNICEF’s vast experience on the ground and Association Montessori International’s century-old effective practice in nurturing loving, conscientious generations. Our intention is to launch a pilot program grounded in peace education for Syrian refugee children living in Jordan or Turkey come Fall 2015. We are joining an international conference in Istanbul this June to learn, exchange and guide our programmatic development based on effective, ground-breaking practices in service of vulnerable children. Please help us continue to fund the ‘best in class’ academic, athletic and art programs around the globe for war-affected children.