There’s a place near the Syrian border in the vast Jordanian desert that the children call Dream Land.
A small, unobtrusive building in a sea of plastic tents, inside its walls are covered in bright paper butterflies.
Small hands scratch rainbows of crayon onto paper with green strokes of grass and pink petaled flowers.
The contrast to the world outside could not be harsher.
Across the refugee camp of Zaatari, paths wind like snakes of dust through its heart, wrapping mile upon mile of haphazard tents and caravans in their coils.
Corrugated-tin stalls sell rotisserie chicken, soft ice cream and used clothes, while young boys offer up cups of hot tea for 15 cents apiece under glaring skies.
More than one million children have fled Syria’s civil war.
Of these, 60,000 refugee children call this sprawling tent city home. Many of them walked over rocks and through gunfire to get here.
Now, they fight through cold nights, dusty days and a diet of dry rations to survive.
Dream Land is an escape, a Mercy Corps run project of educational and creative activities which gives the uprooted sons and daughters of Syria a chance to heal from the wounds that war inflicts on the vulnerable.
At the last official count, the camp population was estimated at 144,000 refugees. Reports from the volunteer aid staff on the ground had identified that many of the displaced are living under tied up plastic sheeting with only thin rugs and a blanket between their bodies and the ground.
Through the winter, many fall sick with fever from the cold.
Since July 2012, refugees have been flocking to the camp and aid workers have followed to offer them support.
Now though, support is also about to come from our own city, as Edinburgh gathers to raise funds for the Syrian refugees.
“We wanted to do something to help,” said Sarah Brady, 32, from Edinburgh. “We run The Nomads Tent, a large gallery space which imports items directly from sources in Iran, India, Turkey and elsewhere in Asia.
“To witness the civil war has been upsetting for us, but catastrophic for the Syrians. We decided to put on a fundraiser for the refugees, so we’ve been asking members of the public to donate items that we can auction off to raise funds.”
Using their skills at finding interesting and authentic objects, The Nomad’s Tent have been swiftly supported by the city which have already donated more than 2000 valuable items to the auction cause.
As Sarah’s colleague Andrew Haughton said: “Here at the Nomads Tent, we have been staggered (and very nearly overwhelmed) by the amount of fabulous goods donated – perhaps 2000 items so far, so many beautiful and valuable items. Such generous and active concern has been shown for the people of Syria.”
The items will now be on sale at the tent for the month of March, which include mirrors, cloth, delicate embroidered clothing and cultural objects.
The most unusual items are being kept for auction on March 22, with Gavin Strang of Lyon and Turnbull Auctioneers offering to be the expert auctioneer for the cause.
“We’re all quite excited,” said Sarah. “All the money raised will go straight to Mercy Corps who are working extremely hard in appalling conditions to care for those caught up in what is clearly a disaster for millions of people.”