A Carer’s perspective on Fostering UASC (Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children) from Syria.
What is happening in Syria?
Well, in a nutshell, the country’s leader and army decided to declare war on his own people, so the country’s army is shelling and bombing every civilian target there is. During this, families have lost their homes, or left for safety to neighbouring countries. Many decided to take a leap of faith and migrate further looking for safety. The numbers of refugees are now in the millions so now the Syrian problem is a worldwide problem and not just a regional one.
Caring for Muslim youngsters? Are you nuts? What about ISIS…
Ok here is a bit of news; ISIS has around 20,000 members, mostly adult male fighters who are spread between Iraq and Syria. The Syrian population is 22 million, making the chances of you getting an ISIS child NIL. A refugee child is a scared individual looking for a safe place to call home.
But the child comes with no history? How do I know who am I taking?
Legitimate concern, but let’s take a look at the children we already care for now. They often come as an emergency placement, sometimes with no history or an inflated one as logs are often made by professionals trying to protect their backs. You still take that child and then problem solve as you have him or her in your household,
As carers we are always taking risks with who we take in our homes and that is a part of the job. Syrian children are no different to that, they come with the advantage that they mostly have had positive parenting before this war. They are respectful and full of gratitude – I know a few carers who will only take asylum seekers because of the level of respect they offer.
How about culture differences and diet restrictions, it’s going to be a nightmare?
Humanity is universal; Stick to this faith and you will be fine. The smile is an international language, it speaks louder than any words.
Here are a few tips that can help bridge the culture gap:
Halal Diet: No alcohol, meaning no alcohol, including cooking sauces and to any product that has alcohol as part of its manufacturing process. EXCLUDING MEDICINE. If in doubt always go vegetarian where possible, the kids will not mind, in fact they will love you for including them at meal times.
No pork, No Ham, No Bacon. This also extends to any product made from pig such as pork gelatine sweets. If you wish to educate yourself further on Halal diet you can do so, but sticking to these basic roles would be a great help.
Toilet habits may be slightly different as well. Muslims wash with water every time they use the toilet. Having a small garden water jug under the sink would make a child’s life a lot easier. These can be bought from home bargains, B&Q and even the Pound Shop. Remember they would not like to use toilet paper and there is a slight chance that the child may not be familiar with a toilet seat. In general Syria uses a different concept of toilet seats, it wouldn’t harm using sign langue to explain the flushing and the general rituals of the toilet, male to male and female to female demonstration would be more sensitive to the cultural gap. Hold the jug and tell them it is ok to use it.
Dogs and pets are fine, but if you notice that your child is praying it would help them to keep the dog out of the their room as they would need to keep that space a pet free zone.
Where can I get more help?
Check your local mosque, there is likely to be one you didn’t know about nearby. If not there are plenty of communities and literature online that can help. The council would be also be a good starting point. Any questions please don’t hesitate to ask and thank you once more for the job you are doing :).
You are amazing as they keep telling you, you really are.
Foster carer Compass Fostering