Since 2013, Télécoms Sans Frontières has been working to assist Syrian refugee children inside Syria and in neighbouring Turkey through educational activities, to help them get over their past and give them the means to rebuild their future. The Lab4Future project, started in January 2020, is the latest evolution of these activities. It focuses on TSF’s core expertise with the aim of using technologies to improve the self-confidence, learning capabilities and peer-collaboration skills of vulnerable children.
Since the beginning of the project, over 150 children have participated in the Lab4Future activities. Guided by TSF’s instructors, they have had the possibility to learn the basics of programming through interactive platforms and tools such as Scratch and Lego robots. They learned the basics of a safe and effective use of personal computers and the Internet, as well as the basics of electricity. All of this surrounded by a safe and welcoming environment built specifically around their needs, with their difficulties, strengths and weaknesses in mind. An environment and a pedagogical approach developed and refined throughout the years to help them learn, work with their peers and regain the willingness to learn after the trauma of their past.
The feedback we received from our instructors, the children and their parents has been extremely positive. For the parents, the proposed activities can be very useful for their children’s future. For Mrs. Mohamad, “Of course it can help them! Especially in programming”. Mrs. Mohammad agrees, “sure it will help them, it gives them expertise in programming, reading and writing, they spend their time wisely and it will of course help them in the future”. Mrs Amani goes even further by saying that “it gives them ideas about programming, robots and computer and I hope they will like this field and will continue studying it in the future”.
Discussing directly with the children, we could also realise how important these activities are for them. All those interviewed confirmed that they like the activities and that they feel well when coming to the centres. And nearly all of them would like to continue to study one of the subjects they learn at the centre in their future. Finally, more than half of them told us that, at the centres, they found something that makes them dream. Beyond the technical skills, the Lab4Future project aims at helping vulnerable children and youth get their lives back. After the trauma of the war, after having to see around you nearly just suffering and destruction, after being forced to move to a foreign country, it’s hard to think that you can still dream of something better and of a normal life. With its Lab4Future, TSF is contributing to reconstruct the lives of a generation that would risk being completely lost through no fault of their own.
TSF is now ending the project and it is working with its local partner Minber Alsham to facilitate the hand over and thus allow them to continue the activities independently in the future.