Members of the NCC Girls Group are using their imagination to develop a potion to cure the Coronavirus. As they act out the story online, they add lockets of hair and leaves from a tree they were familiar with when they lived in Syria – the Quina – to make the antidote for this deadly disease. As they share the story with other members of the Group, they pause for dramatic effect, which quickly turns into laughter. 

Abeer Al-Salihi, a Settlement Workers in Schools at the NCC, facilitates the Girls Group once a month together with Liz McFadden, a counsellor at Peterborough Youth Services (PYS). 

Trust is a key factor in the group’s success, according to Abeer. “We play games that are fun and the girls enjoy. We laugh together as a group and this helps to build trust, so that the girls can express themselves freely, without judgment. This allows them to open up and communicate how they are feeling.” If the girls are facing challenges they have the opportunity to meet with Liz for one on one counselling.  

“We have worked collaboratively with the NCC to create a safe space for these young girls to identify and share their feelings for more than 2 years,” says Liz. “Many of these girls have experienced trauma.  We were concerned that feelings of isolation would be amplified as a result of not being able to attend school or meet as a group in person,” Liz explains.  

“We consulted with both of our organizations and quickly started meeting with the group online, once a week.”

Recently, the group met social distance style in King Edward Park with Caitlin Jacobs, a facilitator from the John Howard Society, to participate in a discussion on non-violent communication. “We’re working with the group to help them make an observation instead of a judgment,” explains Caitlin. “A request instead of a demand. It’s called compassionate communication.”

While the restrictions of the pandemic have limited the group from getting together in person, it hasn’t prevented the girls from thriving. “Connecting online has proved to be extremely valuable for these girls,” says Abeer. “They have taken leadership in running the activities as well as which topics we should be discussing each week.”


Read more stories like this in our 2020 Gratitude Report celebrating the Power of Connection during the COVID-19 pandemic.