Most Syrian civil activism is concentrated on the cities and usually doesn´t extend to the countryside, where the liberated rural areas are in need of much work. Many places that were marginalized under regime control remain marginalized and not taken care of. Mashalab, a small village about 3 kilometers east of Raqqa, known for its historic shrines such as Ammar bin Yaser’s, is one of such places.
To tackle this problem, a group of activists of the Our Rights movement launched a campaign under the name A Study-Tour for Raqqa Society. It started in Mashalab and spread to Ad-Dikhar and other areas of the province, with a special focus on activities for children. One of the activists said to Syria Untold:
“This excruciating war places unbearable pressure on children. Most of our grassroots movements are neglecting children´s rights because there are constant emergencies and priorities. That’s why we came up with activities like drawing workshops, playing musical instruments, and dancing”. He smiles and adds, “We are also teaching them the Brazilian capoeira dance.”
It is a very difficult task, activists admit. Most drawings made by children show hands raising with the sign of victory or slogans that they hear around them, like “Down with the regime”, instead of flowers, houses and other things children around the world typically reflect on their paintings. The activities, however, manage to take the children´s minds off the war and the stress and hardships endured even if only for a moment. “The smile on the kids´ faces make it all worth it.”