(mis) Fortunes

We asked 180 children in Iraq what they were afraid of.
Our survey said...

Before we design and plan our projects we ask the children what their lives are like and what they think the solutions to their problems might be. Their answers are often different to those given by their parents or adults in the community.

In 2010 we surveyed 180 children in southern Iraq about what made them feel afraid and safe. We also asked them what children do during the day.

The answers revealed some alarming results:

  • Despite the war having finished, the most common fears expressed by the children were conflict-related ones. Many mentioned guns, explosions, kidnappings and tanks.
  • Most children identified school as a place that makes them feel safe, though some highlighted unsafe buildings and bad/violent teachers as a source of anxiety.
  • Road accidents were a big source of fear highlighted by the children (though none of the adults mentioned it). Many of the children said they had witnessed fatal road accidents. (Some of our ‘quick impact’ projects in response were the building of speed bumps outside the schools where pupils had already been hit and killed by cars).
  • When asked what they did during the day, 73 boys mentioned playing/socialising with friends but only 3 girls did. Many girls, especially those out of school are kept home all day. Almost all of them mentioned cooking, cleaning and sewing as part of their daily routine.
One group of girls ranked ‘the future’ as their greatest fear.
One boy said he didn’t enjoy recreation because he had a ball but ‘didn’t know how to play with it’.