EPGO III: Overcoming stories in the schools of Lebanon

Barely few months ago, before the global emergency caused by COVID-19, we travelled to the JRS schools in Lebanon, located in Bar Elias and Baalbek, where Samir and Maher told us about their experience after having to go through an adaptation process to their new life, leaving behind the aftermath of a war in their native country, Syria, which began in 2011.

Samir, from Bar Elias, explained us how he encountered countless of barriers at school in the beginning, reaching the point of rejecting any reference related to it. It was with time and the help of his tutors and the social worker, Houda, that he finally managed to adapt.  Samir received psychosocial support when he was facing some family and school problems, Houda explained. “I worked with him since October 2018, giving him a weekly session on stress management, conflict resolution, self-esteem, and teen issues.”

The school is essential to be able to build a future, especially in refugee children, since it is not only seen as a place to learn but also as a refuge where children feel supported and understood, as Samir’s case.

«We are not missing anything here», said Samir. “The tutors make sure that we have everything, not only education, but they make us feel safe and comfortable, that’s why I changed the way I see the school, which I now love.”

That is why we have not stopped accompanying them during this emergency: JRS has adapted their response by offering education from the distance so that students can carry out the exercises, as Rayhana Itani, JRS pedagogical coordinator in Baalbek, explains, “the tutors carry out the classes by sending the exercises recorded in voice notes and explanatory videos to the students”, she tells us, “using different means”.

Furthermore, we have also been offering psychosocial support to both teachers and students, and we have carried out awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

As Rayhana Itani, JRS pedagogical coordinator in Baalbek, explains, “the tutors carry out the classes by sending the exercises recorded in voice notes and explanatory videos to the students”, she tells us, “using different means”.

For students, attending to school is key for their emotional stability. This was also verified in the revolutions that occurred in Lebanon in October 2019, where for security reasons, classes were stopped for a week. “It was a boring time, where I missed being at my desk and playing with my friends. School is much better than being at home”, Maher recalled from Baalbek.

This student told us about his passion for learning and making new friends, as well as the importance he gave to receiving an education in English, something that did not happen in Syria: “I improved a lot in English. Now I can read the signs and billboards on the street if I get lost, before I couldn’t do it.”

Maher, whose dream is to become a pilot, also highlighted the support from his tutors. «They love me and I love them because they teach me things I don’t know.»