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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Inside a Syrian Underground Amusement Park (6 Photos + Video)


"I think a picture of a child laughing or smiling is a very valuable thing."
Indeed it is, exponentially so in such a war-torn area such as Syria where children without a voice in the matter are often caught in the crossfires. Great story!...

Children play on a ferris wheel at an underground amusement park in Arbin, outside Damascus, Syria, Sept. 16, 2016. The underground amusement park was built to protect children from bombing and shelling. It consists of two underground halls connected through a tunnel.
| Mohammed Badra—EPA | TIME

Welcome to Childhood Land, a makeshift playground where children can play dress up, ride swings and board a small merry-go-round.

From TIME:
In an underground basement in Arbin, a rebel-held neighborhood on the outskirts of Damascus, the laughter of children can be heard, echoing up to a world that has been dominated by destruction and war for more than five years.

Children walk through a tunnel connecting the two halls of an underground amusement park in Arbin, outside Damascus, Syria, on Sept. 16, 2016. | Mohammed Badra—EPA | TIME

Built more than 18 months ago by volunteers, the small-scale, underground amusement park offers a much-needed respite for children caught in the crossfire of the ongoing conflict. “So many children have suffered because of the Syrian crisis, there’s been so many psychological troubles,” says Mohammed Badra, an EPA photographer. “The park’s architect, Yassen, said that since we can’t give children candy and food, we gave them some happiness.”


Children enjoy a swing ride at an underground amusement park in Arbin, outside Damascus, Syria, on Sept. 16, 2016.
| Mohammed Badra—EPA  | TIME

Badra stumbled on Childhood Land when he was working for the Syrian Red Crescent as a first-aid volunteer. “I know [of] many places like this one built for the children,” he tells TIME. “I can say that no child in Syria has not been affected by the crisis. I think [this park] is very important for them. I consider it a hospital for children’s spirit.” And it’s also helping parents. “Fathers see their children laughing more. That’s a very important thing in their lives.”

A boy plays on a ladder in an underground amusement park in Arbin, outside Damascus, Syria, on Sept. 16, 2016.
| Mohammed Badra—EPA | TIME



From Anadolu Agency:
The underground playground is around 1,000 square meters and is connected through a series of tunnels to protect children from the shelling.

Children react as they listen to songs at an underground amusement park in Arbin, outside Damascus, Syria, on Sept. 16, 2016.
| Mohammed Badra—EPA | TIME

The playground is supervised by professional engineers who work to make the atmosphere as close as possible to that of ordinary playgrounds.

A child climbs at an underground amusement park in Arbin, outside Damascus, Syria, on Sept. 16, 2016.
| Mohammed Badra—EPA | TIME


Overall, the funfair accommodates 400 to 700 children and employs around 50 people in the local area. 
Abu Ammar al-Haj Ali, director of Tawaado Foundation, told Anadolu Agency in an interview that most families are unable to secure their children’s basic needs, let alone buying them games and other forms of entertainment. 
"The lack of suitable places for such activities makes it [entertainment] limited to coloring and drawing, which led us to create the amusement park with the assistance of professionals in this field," he added. 
Project supervisor Yasin al-Boushi said that one of the obstacles was finding a suitable and safe location. They settled on two cellars under separate buildings that they then linked together to create the space for the funfair. 
"The next problem we faced was how to find the necessary construction materials. Due to the lack of cement in East Ghouta, we were forced to use mud with straw for interior cladding. The metals used in the project were brought from local landfills and recycled,” al-Bushi told Anadolu Agency.

As for Badra, the focus on Childhood Land is also part of a shift in his own approach to covering the conflict, a change he’s embarked upon under the mentorship of his editor at EPA, Oliver Weiken. “I really want to make new pictures about Syrian daily life,” he says. “Lives here are not just about the injured. After several massacres that happened here, I think a picture of a child laughing or smiling is a great picture to see. It’s a very valuable thing.”

Source(s): time | aa




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