Being a refugee is rarely someone's choice. In Germany, the country who opens up and embraces them, they just want to be treated as normal.
(Purity Deng, Syria and Afghanistan ‘Hape Love Ambassador')
Compared with other countries we donate to, the preparation procedure in Berlin proved to be a little more complex ahead of our visit with child refugees. At the donation ceremony, held in a Child Friendly Space, we had to sign a code of conduct document beforehand to make sure that all the refugees were protected when in contact with any visitors. This included for example: no disclosure of personal information or data to any third parties or an inappropriate closeness to any child.
Set up and run by Save the Children, the world's leading independent organisation for children in need, Berlin's Child Friendly Space is located inside a refugee reception centre in the German capital. The reception centre accommodates more than 700 child refugees from different countries, many of whom have fled from Syria and Afghanistan. Every day, 20 to 30 of the children - most of whom are aged between 1 and 13-years-old - can spend some time in the Child Friendly Space, where they can chat and play with toys like any other child. The purpose of this Child Friendly Space is to provide children with an informal education and a range of psychosocial support activities, as well as reaching out to the children's parents.
It was in this Child Friendly Space that Hape held its special donating ceremony. The children who attended the ceremony have gone through unbelievable hardships and experienced the brutality of war, with many of them being cruelly separated from their families. "As a mother of two children, these heartbreaking stories touch me deep inside, and I wish I could talk to them all and listen to their stories. I wish I could give all the children a big hug - something that is not allowed under the code of conduct rules that are, quite rightly, given to all visitors to the centre in order to protect the refugees. " Said Purity, ‘Hape Love Ambassador‘ for Syria and Afghanistan.
The donation ceremony was a success, and the Save the Children staff was cautious but helpful in every way. We are not able to show all the children‘s faces with camera, but why must we? As the children received our toys, they marveled at the gifts bestowed to them and their faces lit up with delighted smiles - smiles that have been absent for too long. This gave us a feeling of fulfilment but also of heartache. These children are not refugees by choice, and in Germany, the country who opens up and embraces them, they just want to be treated as ordinary children. At this moment, biting my lips tightly, I understood the rules of behavior set by Save the Children before our visit.
Stepping out of the Child Friendly Space, the Berlin sky was a quite brilliant shade of blue. Suddenly, I received a piece of tragic news on my phone: 500 Feared Dead After Migrant Boat Sinks in Mediterranean Sea between Libya and Italy, UNHCR reported…
When there is no war, there is no separation; we come into this world equal and at one with nature, and only external forces conspire to destroy this innocence. As a toy company, we may not be able to prevent human tragedies, but as individuals coming together, we can begin to make the world a brighter place. We can nurture every newborn and soothe every hurt soul with our educational toys and philosophy of natural growth and open-ended play.
‘We Care We Share‘ is an active charity program run by Hape Holding AG on a global scale. Every time a Hape 30th Anniversary Block Set is purchased, we will donate a toy on behalf of our customers to a child in need. In this charity project that spans five countries, Hape only plays the role of the middleman, bridging the gap between our customers and children in need with love, and the task of our ‘Hape Love Ambassadors' is to ensure that every donated toy goes straight to the hands of children in Nepal, Afghanistan, Syria and Zimbabwe - and to the hands of autistic children in China - safely. We do so in order to carry on the mission that began 30 years ago when Hape was founded.
In June, ‘Hape Love Ambassadors‘ will travel to Zimbabwe to donate to the country's ECCD (Early Childhood Care and Development) centres.
Join us by typing your serial number into our website to see where your donation goes and to watch how it can make a difference to a child in need's life.
About our donation partner Save the Children:
Save the Children works in more than 120 countries.
‘We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights.
We help them fulfil their potential.’
(Image Right reserved by Hape International Ltd.)