FOR most children, the news that their school is closed tends to spark feelings of excitement.

It's a kind of miracle that very occasionally happens – a reason to celebrate and something to enjoy.

But when the children in Syria were told there would be no school, possibly for months, they knew something horrible had happened.

It was no miracle; there was nothing to celebrate. Only dread and foreboding.

Indeed, the experiences of refugee families are often overlooked amid rising political tensions. However, the sheer scale of horror and upheaval must not be diminished.

An account of one refugee – who has since settled in Clackmannanshire – gave a harrowing insight into their ordeal when fleeing the war-torn country.

The details were laid bare in council papers last week as elected members discussed Syrian refugee settlement scheme in the Wee County.

The refugee's story illustrated for the council shows that it was not just the infrastructure that was devastated in Syria, but also the spirits of people.

"Both were broken – many beyond repair", the refugee said. "The war made education difficult because the army closed the schools, sometimes for one or two months.

"Also, it was not safe for children to leave home.

"Some parents thought if they sent their children to school maybe they would be hurt by a stray bullet or maybe someone would kidnap them, so they kept their children at home."

But for children, it was not just about losing the chance of building a bright future behind school desks.

The hardest was losing family, friends, school mates, neighbours and just people they would be accustomed to seeing every day.

"The idea that this person was beside you one minute and gone the next is very hard to understand and accept," the account continued.

"This feeling is particularly hard for children. Everyone needs a glimmer of hope to keep them going."

Losing a child is every parent's nightmare. Some felt the only way to keep their sons and daughters safe was to flee and not live under the constant threat of shelling and air strikes.

The refugee went on: "It is very hard to decide to leave your own country or your home and abandon all the beautiful memories, but if you want to escape from war with the least damage you must do this."

The people who escaped the war did not simply get away from a conflict. They were escaping death.

Many were too frightened to go to sleep because they were afraid they wouldn't wake up in the morning.

There were no jobs and no food. And families waited in vain for loved ones to come home – despite knowing in their hearts they would never return.

"This feeling seeps into every fibre of your being. It is inescapable", explains the refugee.

"If I spoke about all these feelings for years and year, [people] still wouldn't' understand what I mean."

With a fresh start in the Wee County there is an opportunity for people to rebuild their lives.

Ultimately, the refugee concluded: "I hope that people try to understand that those who left the war have been forced to do so and that all they ask for is compassion."

The detailed insight was documented to help illustrate why Clacks Council should continue its involvement in a UK Government scheme and rehome four more families into the Wee County community up to 2025.

And the humanitarian effort will continue with locals recognised for their role in making sure those received by the local authority were made welcome.

As highlighted during debates in the council chamber last week, three businesses have been launched locally by people who are rebuilding their lives, having fled their war-torn homes.

Syriana, the High Street's authentic Levantine restaurant, is the latest venture and has been going steady for two months.

Owners, including Yasser Kanaan, are happy they could start working and trading locally following a warm welcome to the Wee County.

During last week's council meeting council leader Ellen Forson remarked how ventures like Syriana are "enriching" life in the town.

She said the new restaurant was "absolutely fantastic" and offered something different compared to the traditional roll shops.

Typically, modern-day Syrian food is similar to other Middle Eastern cuisines and much of it is vegetarian and healthy.

Everything is homemade with aromas of cumin and olive oil used throughout. Other ingredients typically include chickpeas, sesame seeds, aubergines, zucchini, fava beans and lentils.

Cllr Forson also gave Alwen Cakes at Maple Court a mention and said that there has been positive feedback about the Syrian barbers on the High Street as well.

When it comes to comparing the number of refugees taken in compared to the population, the Wee County is in the top five of local authorities in the whole of the UK, it was revealed at last week's meeting.

Cllr Les Sharp said locals should be "proud of what's been achieved".

And if anyone had any questions on why refugees should be accepted into local communities, Cllr Craig Holden will point to written statements provided by the very people affected, contained in council papers last week.