The Lost Children of Syria


“I hope you’ll join me in helping to demystify misconceptions and soften hearts toward the refugee crisis. Lots of love to you all.” – Shana Vassilieva

 “At one point in her life, Dima Alardah dreamed of becoming an Olympic badminton champion. Years after retiring from competition, Dima now dreams of restoring hope to women and girls all across the Arab world. Before departing for the U.S. Department of State and ESPN-W Global Sports Mentoring Program in 2014, Dima founded the first badminton academy in the Middle East (Shuttlers Academy). Since returning home, she has added to her empowering work by joining the Norwegian Refugee Council to provide sports programs to Syrian refugees living in camps throughout Jordan. This is her story.”


Filmed in Amman and Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan
Produced by the Center for Sport, Peace, & Society
Videography by Shana Vassilieva of Happy Shiver Productions


Official description:

“In a heightened effort to capture how exchanges under the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative have a long-lasting impact, cooperative partners from the University of Tennessee led an on-the-ground monitoring and evaluation program in Egypt and Jordan. During this exchange, alumnae from the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program—Americans and emerging leaders alike—reunited overseas to gauge the progress of action plans, address challenges, and reconnect on projects initiated during the mentorship. Soccer envoys Mary Harvey and Lori Lindsey joined the activities to head up clinics and lead talks on their careers as professional female athletes. Meredith Walker, executive director of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, served as an official envoy. In this role, she led sessions on leveraging media platforms, developing social media strategies, impactful blogging, and international journalism through the lens of women’s empowerment and sports. Through this program, the University of Tennessee conducted interviews, prepared surveys on long-term impact, and produced qualitative and quantitative evidence-of-effectiveness products and media. The overseas trip culminated in workshops and sports clinics with several generations of alumnae, connecting Sports Visitors, Sports Envoys, Mentors, & GSMP Emerging Leaders. Further, both U.S. Embassy Cairo and U.S. Embassy Amman hosted the delegations for meetings with the Ambassadors. In Jordan, the delegation worked with refugees using sports as the platform. U.S. Soccer donated a great deal of soccer equipment and balls for the young refugees.”



Check out Shana’s blog post about the project over at !

Excerpts taken from Shana’s blog and Facebook. Go support her and share the project to get the word out and help this go viral! Shana studied film & video production at Georgia State University.

To learn more about the NRC and to donate click here.

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