We updated you recently on the good news that the children are back to school in Lebanon and learning again after months of closures and disruption due to Covid-19. But, the current economic and political climate in Lebanon continues to be increasingly difficult. We spoke to Nuna Matar from our partner organisation this week who gave us an update on what’s happening in the country and how it’s affecting their work.
Our school in Zahle, Lebanon was able to reopen on the 31st May 2021 and all 300 students returned to classes. It was a welcome relief after months of lockdown and home lessons where the children were constantly asking when they could go back to school.
Could you support our Back to School campaign and give a Monthly Donation childrenontheedge.enthuse.com/regular-gift-websiteto help us get more children back into the classroom in the wake of the pandemic?
In Lebanon, we have been working with Lebanese NGO - Triumphant Mercy since 2014, providing quality education in a child friendly environment for nearly 300 Syrian refugee children. These children live in the informal refugee settlements of Bekaa Valley, who often struggle to access education and support.
The project started with four tent schools in the refugee camps in Bekaa Valley but in 2019 the children were brought together in one central building in Zahle, a nearby city. Students, together with trained refugee teachers, are driven in by bus from the camps to learn together in safe, colourful classrooms and have fun with friends in the large play space outside.
As with so many schools around the world, the Zahle school has been closed for much of the past year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Lebanon has also faced further crisis in recent months; economic collapse, political rioting, a devastating explosion in the capital of Beirut along with continual lockdowns. But our teachers have been incredibly resilient, working tirelessly to come up with solutions to ensure the children can still have access to learning back in the camps. On World Refugee Day, we take a look at what our refugee teachers have been doing to offer home learning and support to the refugee children we support in Lebanon.
Hoda is one of seven children and she lives in a refugee settlement in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. She and her family fled the war in Syria, and came here to try and find safety. As the conflict has been going for over eight years now, she and her brothers and sisters have never known anything different.
Sadly Hoda’s father was killed in a car accident in 2018. This makes things very difficult for her mother, looking after seven children in a camp alone, and Hoda has to spend a lot of time looking after her brothers and sisters.
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery support over 5,500 refugee children with funding of £250,000 for second year in a row
We are delighted to announce that we will not only be benefitting from a second year of incredible generosity from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, but funding will be extended to support our work with refugee children in both Lebanon and Uganda.
The last set of exams in Lebanon saw some great results. Overall the children achieved a 99% pass rate for the Arabic and Maths tests which were taken by 211 students, and a 100% pass rate for English which was taken by 68 older students.
Exams are graded on a scale of 1 -10 with 10 the highest, 1 the lowest and 6 a pass. The majority of students are high-performing with 70% getting a grade 9 or above in Maths, 67% in Arabic and 59% in English.
You can see from the photo above that the children have loved celebrating, but what would they like to do with their skills in the future? Our partners asked them and here are a few of the responses...
The dire economic situation in Lebanon - that was already leading to food shortages and made far worse by COVID-19 restrictions - was further exacerbated by the massive chemical explosion in Beirut’s port on 4th August 2020. Our local partner Triumphant Mercy’s (TM's) administrative offices and Beirut community centre are approximately two miles from the epicentre of the blast and their metal shutter was warped and windows smashed. In the end, the explosion caused 193 deaths, around 6,500 injuries and left approximately 300,000 people homeless.
TM immediately mobilised additional resources (including recruiting volunteers and fundraising) to respond to the needs of those affected by the blast. We ran an emergency appeal and raised over £10,000 to contribute to their efforts.
A Lebanese themed ‘dine in’ event, organised by Chichester based chef Juliet Graham has raised £1,375 for Children on the Edge’s Beirut explosion appeal.
Last month a group of Grade 9 refugee students from the school we support in Lebanon crossed the border and returned to Syria to take their high school exams. Taking their exams in Syria enables the children to prepare for their future, allowing them to continue their education if and when a return to their home country is possible. It was a major achievement for the children, their parents and our team, which took a huge amount of planning and preparation.
On August 4, an enormous explosion destroyed the port of Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. It’s reported that at least 158 people are dead, 6,000 are injured and more than 300,000 people are now homeless.
Even before the explosion the people of Lebanon were enduring significant political and economic crisis, and the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, hospitals are heavily damaged and vital food supplies stored at the ports have been wiped out entirely.