The dynamics of work in the Integration House “Pedro Arrupe” often led to an ordinary routine day turning into a pile of new obligations. For example, it can happen suddenly that we receive five children from Syria who were traveling as a group and, by circumstances, found themselves in our city. The City Center for Social Work sent us a placement request, and the established procedure was set in motion shortly after.
Such an unexpected intake requires maximum engagement in every sense, especially when among the group of five children, there are the youngest beneficiaries ever received at the Integration House, as was the case in this situation.
These five boys are each only a year or two apart in age. Three of them are between thirteen and sixteen years old, while the other two are much younger, only five and six years old.
The team at the “Pedro Arrupe” Integration House is used to working with boys who are mainly admitted during their adolescence, so the arrival of these two young children was a huge surprise for the team but also brought great joy.
The two youngest boys entered the Arrupe House hesitantly, hiding behind the elder ones (as it turned out, they were relatives). All the children from this group arrived in old torn clothes. They told us they had been traveling for a long time, which was evident from the wounds on their legs, and their feet were swollen and deformed. After the initial conversation with everyone, they were explained that they had to take a bath, would receive new clothes and shoes, and then, one by one, they would go upstairs to the living room to have lunch.
The youngest ones were the first to take a bath, and a specific situation occurred. The oldest boy among them showed great concern for the younger children. He was the one who spoke the most with the staff, explaining their situation and instructing others on what to do. When one of the boys finished bathing and announced that he was ready to go for lunch, while the social worker was leading him upstairs to the kitchen, the oldest boy ran after them, distrustful of where the boy would end up. It was then further explained to him that there was no reason to worry, that the procedure was standard for hygiene in the house and due to various accompanying conditions, such as scabies. He was then shown on the cameras in the office what the boy was doing upstairs, and he visibly felt a sense of relief. It was touching to witness how he took on the role of a father figure for these boys, which deeply moved both us and the translator.
After bath, having lunch, and getting to know the other residents, the youngest boys went to their assigned sleeping room. When the supervising tutor checked on them, they were lying down, covered, relaxed, and engaged in a conversation about something.
A few days later, all the new boys realized that they were safe in the house, the oldest one understood that there was no reason to worry, and the youngest ones mostly watched cartoons and played soccer in the yard, often unaware of the exact circumstances around them. They gradually adapted to the house rules, learned to clean up the crumbs from the table after meals, dispose of food leftovers, and prepare plates for the dishwasher. They enthusiastically participated in all the workshops, especially the drawing and creativity ones. In this regard, during July we were assisted by the volunteer from Italy, Alessia Faccoli, whom we warmly greet on this occasion.
In the following days, there were intensive visits to doctors due to scabies, foot and leg injuries, poorly healed previous foot fractures, and also due to shrapnel remnants still present in one of the boys’ bodies. Yet another proof that war suffering and traumas spare no children. A part of the team was responsible for scheduling and accompanying numerous medical examinations, often requiring the full-day engagement of the staff at children’s clinics, hospitals, and various specialist offices. In the end, we are satisfied that the children received maximum assistance and medical attention.