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.
Children like Hoda from this camp travel to the school we support in Zahle, which has been created just for them. It has room for over 300 children and the teachers are all refugees from their own communities, trained by our partner organisation. They have their own bus, which they travel on with their teachers.
Over the last few years all the education supported by Children on the Edge has been in tents in the camp, but this school, which opened in 2019 gives children the chance to learn with more friends, the space to play and the opportunity to get used to a more formal school environment so one day they can start going to a Lebanese school, or even a Syrian school should a return home become possible. The children are following a Syrian and Lebanese, child friendly curriculum in their own dialect. Staff use Montessori techniques to help children re-engage with Arabic, maths, science, history, geography and English.
Our local partners not only run the school, but provide ongoing support in the camps. Project worker Zeinab says, “I visit homes and with the parents I talk about patience and how to teach their children to listen. I also talk about stress and what it can do to them, as they sometimes take out all their anger on their children. I give them kinder ways to discipline them. With the children I teach them how to respect and listen to each other”.
Ten years into the Syrian crisis, neighbouring Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees. A third are located in small makeshift or unofficial camps in Bekaa Valley where children struggle to access education and support.
Since 2014, Children on the Edge have been supporting education for 300 refugee children. Initially based in four tent schools, but now in one central building in Zahle with safe, fun classrooms and a large outdoor playspace.
As with so many schools around the world, the school in Zahle has been closed for much of the past year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Lebanon has also faced further crises 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.
Children on the Edge have developed years of experience working with refugee communities, like Hoda’s. We currently support over 12,000 refugee children around the world to realise their rights. We find innovative ways to enable access to education, working alongside refugee communities to find the best possible solutions.
We train refugee teachers so that children can learn in their own language or dialect and be with familiar, trusted adults that understand them. Our classrooms are colourful and fun environments, where children are safe and can learn to express themselves.
Children can learn, play and discover how to be children again.
MORE ABOUT 'THE EDGE' IN LEBANON
Ten years into the Syrian crisis, neighbouring Lebanon remains the country with the largest number of refugees per capita. The Lebanese government estimates that they host 1.5 million Syrian refugees, with around a third located in the Bekaa Valley, often living in small makeshift or unofficial camps.
Despite these numbers, the last few years have seen a decrease in funding for refugees and a controversial policy by the country’s General Security to push refugees to return to Syria. An estimated 180,000 Syrian children are having to work to support their families rather than attend school and fewer than half of the 631,000 school-age refugee children in Lebanon have access to quality formal education.
Those who can access the mainstream system are often subject to discrimination, abuse, language barriers and unsafe journeys to and from school. All of these factors, faced by refugee children who are also coming to terms with their own trauma and distress, are continuing to create barriers to education. Consequently there is a need for provision of informal education for children living within the camps.
WHAT CHILDREN ON THE EDGE ARE DOING TO HELP
Since 2014, Children on the Edge have been working with Lebanese NGO - Triumphant Mercy, providing quality education in a child friendly environment for Syrian refugee children.
Based in four tent schools for the first few years, since January 2019 children have been brought together in one central building in Zahle. Nearly 300 students, together with trained refugee teachers, are brought in by bus in from the camps to learn together in safe, fun classrooms with the added bonus of a large play space outside.
The children are following a Syrian and Lebanese, child friendly curriculum in their own dialect. Staff use Montessori techniques to help children re-engage with Arabic, maths, science, history, geography and English.
With additional vocational training and trauma care, children are being well prepared for the future, whether this is a return to Syria or a protracted stay in Lebanon.
The work we support in Lebanon is kindly funded by the Players of the People's Postcode Lottery.
Find out more about the work we support in Lebanon as well as all of the good causes funded by the players of Postcode Lottery.