Gruner + Jahr | Hamburg, 10/30/2015

"Giving Back a Piece of Childhood"

Brigitte Huber

Subject: Society
Country: Germany
Category: Charitable Donations

With the charity campaign "Ein Schal fürs Leben" (A Scarf for Life) the G+J women’s magazine "Brigitte" and the children’s rights organization Save the Children are raising money to benefit Syrian refugee children for the second time. The G+J Intranet "Greenport" spoke with "Brigitte" Editor-in-Chief Brigitte Huber and Chief Reporter Meike Dinklage about the goals of the charity campaign, the conditions at a refugee camp in Jordan and the intended use of the money raised.

"Brigitte" is organizing the campaign "A Scarf for Life" for the second time in collaboration with Save the Children. What’s behind it?

Brigitte Huber: The campaign involves knitting or buying a scarf and making a donation to children’s relief projects. For each scarf, €10 will go to the relief projects of Save the Children for Syrian refugee children. We cannot close our eyes to the Syrian children. They need a safe environment to be able to deal with their traumatic experiences. Donations are urgently needed to specifically support the weakest victims of the war, where the help is most needed.

The refugee crisis is more explosive than ever. How do you deal with the issue as the editors of "Brigitte"?

Brigitte Huber: The colleagues at "Brigitte" are concerned with the refugee issue just as much as all of Germany these days. The suffering of the Syrian children deeply affects us. We therefore aim to give them back a piece of their childhood because they are the ones who suffer most from the conflict. We therefore decided to once again send a signal of compassion and hope with the "A Scarf for Life" campaign.

Ms. Dinklage, for your reportage you visited the world’s second largest refugee camp in Jordan a few weeks ago. What were the conditions like there?

Meike Dinklage: It was completely different than in Lebanon, where we went last year for our scarf campaign. The refugees there are not allowed to settle in closed camps because the Lebanese government is afraid that they might turn into permanent settlements. Therefore, people are living under the simplest conditions in provisional housing. Things are different in Jordan. 85,000 people are currently living in the Zaatari camp, and their care is relatively well organized by the NGOs. However, life in a camp means enduring the interminable waiting and being forced to do absolutely nothing. And you hear everywhere that the level of care is worsening, especially for refugees outside the camps, who represent a large majority.

What influence will the "A Scarf for Life" campaign have on Syrian refugees?

Meike Dinklage: About 80 percent of the refugees in the Zaatari camp want to remain close to their homes. They do not want to give up their homes and therefore need support on site. This is precisely what Save the Children promotes, with a focus on the children. They will have the possibility to go to preschool, learn to read and write or to simply play football and play like other children. In this desolate camp where nothing happens, the children have a contact point each day – the Child Family Center. The trauma therapists there closely observe the children. If they get the impression that a child needs targeted help, they talk with the parents and establish contact with psychologists. This happens quite often because almost all of the children are traumatized when they arrive at the camp. The other problem is that their parents are also traumatized. The stability that family provides to children no longer exists. Children experience flight and loss of safety and home even more strongly than adults, who are more able to compensate with their minds and power of reason.

What is your hope for Human Rights Day on 10 December?

Meike Dinklage: I hope that many people will wear the scarves. This year, the campaign has an entirely different magnitude than last year, when the situation was less in our awareness than it is now. It’s about human rights, but implicitly this campaign is also a statement against war. Set against the background of the current events in Syria and the diplomatic helplessness, it is even more important to wear our "Scarf for Life".

Knitting supporters can purchase the wool package including knitting instructions and needles in one of the 500 wool retail shops that sell Lana Grossa. Each package costs €45, of which €10 will be donated. Those who do not want to knit a scarf can purchase a scarf at for €79 including the €10 donation. The donation amount goes to benefit the Syrian girls and boys. Those who want to help without purchasing a scarf can make a donation directly to Save the Children. The organization will use the donations for food, drinking water, medicine, psychological support and to create safe places for playing and learning, where the children can again experience support and joy in their lives.