Syrian father teaches daughter to laugh at bomb explosions to make her less afraid

Conrad Duncan
A Syrian father has taught his daughter to laugh at plane and bomb sounds as a game: Abdullah Mohammed

A Syrian father has taught his daughter to laugh at plane and bomb sounds as a game to make her less scared of frequent explosions in the war-torn province of Idlib.

Abdullah Al-Mohammad was inspired to teach his three-year-old daughter Salwa to laugh when she hears bomb explosions after he helped her to overcome her fear of fireworks by explaining they were just used for fun.

A video posted on social media of the pair playing the game has been viewed more than two million times and drawn comparisons to the Roberto Benigni film Life Is Beautiful, in which a Jewish father shields his son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp.

Mr Al-Mohammad and his daughter are currently living at a friend’s house in the town of Sarmada in Idlib after being forced to flee their home in Saraqib due to the ongoing Syrian civil war.

“There was a lot of bombardment. The children were suffering from psychological problems and nervous breakdowns because of the bombings,” the father told The Turkish Independent.

“I sought solutions to make these bombardments a source of happiness, not fear, for the child,” he added.

“I taught [her] that it wasn't scary and she should laugh. She thinks the sounds of bombs are toy weapons.”

About 700,000 people have fled towns and cities in Idlib since December following an offensive launched by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to the United Nations.

However, some families who have fled their homes have found there is no shelter available to them.

“Thousands of people are here in the streets. If you walk around you can see them. They have no plan and no idea what to do,” Fayyad Akoush, a Syrian activist, told The Independent last week.

“No one is helping us. The whole world watches us while we die. We are just waiting for the shells to fall on us.”

David Swanson, the UN’s regional spokesperson for the Syria crisis, has warned that the crisis is “spiralling out of control”.

“Many of those who have sought shelter in camps, informal settlements or unfinished buildings have nothing but the clothes on their backs,” Mr Swanson said.

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Masses of civilians flee regime bombs in Syria’s Idlib