Kareem walks to Concern's learning center
Concern Worldwide continues to assist Syrian refugees in meeting their most urgent needs, and we are grateful for your generous support which helps to make this work possible. Concern manages a range of programming for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey, including the provision of basic needs, such as clean water, food, clothing, and shelter. We are also providing education, psycho social support, and community based protection efforts.Today, I want to spotlight Concern’s efforts to assist Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Since the onset of the crisis, Lebanon has absorbed 1.5 million Syrian refugees, which has swelled the country’s population by an astounding 25% in just five years.
One of Concern’s most critical efforts in Lebanon is our early childhood education (ECE) program in the Akkar and North governorates. This program targets children aged 3-5 to build their core competence in Arabic, Math, and French to improve school readiness by the time children are six years old and eligible to enroll in the formal Lebanese school system. Instructors are both Lebanese and Syrian, and they have been trained in student centered learning, classroom management, and child protection. In addition, parents and other caregivers are trained on home learning techniques, formal education options, and child protection issues.
In addition to early childhood education, Concern is providing Syrian children in Lebanon with homework support and classes for basic literacy and numeracy in French. For children who are struggling to process their emotions, we offer psychosocial support and engage and encourage parents through parent and caregiver groups. Since 2016 these programs have helped 2,614 children.
I would now like to take the time to share with you a story, written by Concern's Aoife O'Grady, of a Syrian family in Lebanon that is benefiting from our ECE program.
Kareem* is six years old, and was born in 2011, the same year that the conflict began in Syria. By the time he was a toddler, the war had made Kareem a refugee, as his family had to flee to Lebanon for safety. By leaving Syria, Kareem’s family was ripped from everything and everyone they knew, and the stress and anxiety of displacement left a deep mark on Kareem. He became increasingly isolated from other children and showed almost exclusive attachment to the only constant in his life: his family, and in particular his mother, Mahira*.
When the time came for Kareem to begin school, Mahira knew that the mainstream Lebanese system simply wasn’t an option for him. She was relieved to discover Concern’s ECE program, and felt that it would be the best option for Kareem at the time. Concern’s ECE program has provided a stepping stone for Kareem to make the leap into formal education in Lebanon, and his mother is now confident that he will cope well when the time comes. He has become more active in class and is now mixing well with the other children — he even has a best friend named Asif*.
Of course, the challenges facing Kareem’s family and the 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have sought safety in Lebanon have not disappeared. Kareem — like so many others — is haunted by those he left behind and keeps asking his mother where his grandparents are. But Concern continues to work with communities to help ensure that Kareem and his peers won’t become part of a lost generation.
The present is undeniably challenging but Concern’s aim is to ensure that a different future is possible for Kareem and the children of Syria in Lebanon.
“I dream my son will continue his education since he took the correct first steps with Concern. I believe that he is on the right path. I will encourage him and I know that organizations like Concern will help him succeed.”
Thanks in part to your contributions, Kareem has a chance at the education he deserves, and Mahira and her family can look forward to a future full of opportunity.
*Names changed for security purposes
Concern's Education Officer works with children
Kareem and his friends at the education center