Sawa's pedagogical approach was interactive, not pedantic: it sought to involve children on their own terms by seeing the world through their eyes. Those involved with Sawa knew that education is most effective when the children enjoy what they are doing. The creative team behind Sawa understood that success depended on understanding the reality of the daily lives of children and then finding ways to take them beyond those boundaries imposed upon them by the war. Each colorfully bound issue invited kids to play with word games, puzzles, jokes and riddles, coloring and drawing exercises, and even magic tricks, providing them with hours of entertainment. Sawa's content was thoughtfully designed to send an unthreatening message while helping to fill the gap left by the closure of schools. Stories were written for Sawa that presented a problem or an exercise involving looking at the world from various perspectives. Sometimes the readers were challenged to finish a story, or challenged to think about the story's consequences.
With each issue, Sawa's content came to be increasingly determined by the children themselves. Following the distribution of the first issue, UNICEF received 1,500 letters from children thanking the agency for the magazine, as well as stories, drawings, poems, and jokes. From the second issue onwards, Sawa devoted two pages to a readers' section called "Have Your Say," and the children were encouraged to bring their contributions to the points where Sawa was distributed. The effect was like opening a floodgate: UNICEF was soon receiving an average of 2,500 replies from each issue. These were carefully read and sorted, and the selected responses were published in a new "Return Mail" section of Sawa that often included suggestions from readers on what they would like to see next.
The contributions became an integral part of Sawa, and it was from this source of feedback that the magazine began to take on a more overtly peace-oriented and activist role. Through Sawa, children spontaneously began to give expression to their yearning for a better life. Poems, pictures, stories, and prayers from the children talked about peace and possibilities, not about war and violence. Although the war was always there in the background, very few of the 45,000 responses received actually spoke of the war and its hardships.
Sawa continued to appear regularly until the end of the war late in 1990. As the needs of Lebanon's children changed, the Sawa project changed as well. With the implementation in 1991 of the National Reconciliation Charter, relative calm was restored to all of Lebanon except for the southern areas bordering on Israel. UNICEF shifted away from the emergency mode in which it had functioned during the war years, and with the shift, funding of existing projects came under review. Responsibility for Sawa was turned over to the Education Program, and the magazine took on a new function in support of an initiative called "Learning for Life." Publication of Sawa ceased altogether in 1994.