These Short Films Give A Devastating Glimpse Of The Stories Of Syria’s Child Refugees

Save The Children wants to shine a light on the suffering of the youngest and most vulnerable in the ongoing war.

These Short Films Give A Devastating Glimpse Of The Stories Of Syria’s Child Refugees
[All Images: Nick Ballon/Alma Haser via Save The Children] [All Images: Nick Ballon/Alma Haser via Save The Children]

Last August, a picture of Omran Daqneesh, the dazed, dusty and bloody little boy sitting in the back of an ambulance, captured the horrors of warn-torn Aleppo. What it couldn’t really show was just what the traumatized little boy might be thinking, and how what he’d seen would continue to affect him as a Syrian refugee.


To hammer home just traumatic such devastation can be Save The Children has commissioned several more pictures of Syrian children aimed at plotting that aftermath. And they are hauntingly interactive. Each photograph is overlaid with animations designed to telegraph the psychological toll that the war continues to have on those who survive it.

The nonprofit commissioned photographer Nick Ballon and conceptual artist Alma Haser to create six such visualizations, which are also overlapped with narration from both the kids themselves and their relatives, who try to describe what life is like now and how they’ve coped.

To broader goal is to humanize a new report from the organization, which shows that most of the regions youngest survivors are now dealing with what’s dubbed “toxic stress”—they’re now living in on high-alert at all times. That constant state of fear and anxiety increases their risk of everything from suicide to depression and heart disease.

In a separate statement, Save the Children is calling for all authorities to rethink just what lines get crossed in a time of war. But equally important, they’ve now made a strong case—both visceral and intellectual–that refugees don’t just need food, shelter, and relocation. They will also need immediate and sustained psychological support for a long time to come. And the effect of funding that is vitally important.

Millions have fled Syria with a large part of that massive exodus entering Turkey, where they live in temporary housing and are struggling to adjust. Save The Children is also working to provide counseling there through a partner group named Shafak. You can watch and learn more about the survivors’ stories below. They’re raising money and sharing more details here.

Abbas, who is seven years old:


Ahmed, who is nine years old:

Hassan, who is nine years old:

Mohammed, who is eight years old:

Nesreen, who is nine years old:

Razan, who is seven years old:

About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.