Three-year-old girl taught to laugh at bombs reaches safety in Turkey

Salwa and her father are reported to be in a refugee camp in Southern Turkey, joining the 3.7 million Syrian refugees now living in Turkey.

Children sit in an auto rickshaw in Tal Abyad, one of the cities in which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan plans to resettle Syrian refugees (photo credit: KHALIL ASHAWI / REUTERS)
Children sit in an auto rickshaw in Tal Abyad, one of the cities in which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan plans to resettle Syrian refugees
(photo credit: KHALIL ASHAWI / REUTERS)
Salwa Mohammad, a three-year-old girl living in Idlib, Syria, has escaped to safety in Turkey with her father, Abdullah Mohammad. 

The family lived in Syria's final, major rebel stronghold, which suffered from heavy fighting between the Syrian government and Turkish-backed rebel forces over the last nine years of war. 

Salwa first gained fame for a viral video last month that showed her and her father playing a game. In this game, Mohammad asks his daughter what the rumbling noise is approaching them and she replies, “A bomb – when it comes, we will laugh.”

Mohammad created this game, teaching his daughter to laugh whenever she hears a bomb nearby in order to prevent her from getting scared and traumatized. 

“I wanted her to associate these loud, frightening sounds to something that is light and amusing,” Mohammad told British media. 

He was inspired to create this game by one he had played with Salwa when she was younger and afraid of the loud noises made during the Muslim festival of Eid. Whenever she would become afraid of the noise, he would show her happy children letting off fireworks, in an attempt to show her that loud noises didn’t necessarily have to be scary. 

This game, and the game used during the attacks and bombs, helped Salwa to stay calm and content. 

According to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, Salwa and her father crossed over the Cilvegozu border into Turkey on February 25. 

They are reported to be in a refugee camp in Southern Turkey, joining the 3.7 million Syrian refugees now living in Turkey. 

“For the first time ever, she can laugh at normal things,” wrote Guardian reporter Beth McKernan in a tweet of Salwa and her father. 
Mohammad told Turkish media that he is happy to have made it to safety in Turkey and is glad that Salwa will finally be able to attend school. 

"I hope that the conflict in Syria can soon end and that I can return," Mohammad reportedly told the Anadolu Agency.