Children
 Lebanon
Project #15373

Emergency Aid for Children Fleeing Syria

by Middle East Children's Alliance
Vetted
Distributing gas for heaters
Distributing gas for heaters

In December, MECA provided funding for a "Warm Winters" project to distribute gas for heaters to 500 families and food and hygiene coupons to 100 families living the Bekaa Valley area of Lebanon.

The staff at Al Jalil Center who organized and implemented the project after surveying families for their needs commented that "We searched for the families who left everything behind them, to come to the Beqaa, especially the Aljalil camp. Our duty is to support this kind of vulnerable families in aid. Especially during these winter days that are icey, stormy, and bitterly cold."

One of the beneficiaries is a young couple from Syria who left everything and came to Lebanon illegally. They arrived in November 2016 to Waivel Refugee Camp with nothing - no clothing, no bedding, no papers. Different individuals and organizations provided them with a mattress, blankets, and a heater. Then Al Jalil Center provided them with gas for their heater and a voucher to purchase basic food and hygiene items from one of the local shops. 

We also continue to support programs at two locations in Lebanon providing informal schooling for Syrian refugee children who are unable to attend the local schools because they have fallen too behind, don't have the correct paperwork, or are not able to pay the registration fees. 

Purchasing food and hygiene items with vouchers
Purchasing food and hygiene items with vouchers
A classroom for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon
A classroom for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon
One of the students at an informal school
One of the students at an informal school
Studying at Al-Jalil Center in Lebanon
Studying at Al-Jalil Center in Lebanon

When I see local students going to school every day, I feel jealous and angry.  I ask myself, why I am not allowed to be like them? Why I am different?

I was born and grew up in a refugee camp. I am connected to each and every refugee on this earth. We refugees share the dream of returning to our homes and land. In the meantime, I think about how refugees around the world survive day to day. Where do they sleep? What do they have to eat? Do they have access to water? Can the children go to school?

A few days ago I talked to a 14-year-old girl named Maisa. She is a refugee from Syria living in Lebanon.

I want to share the things Maisa told me about her life.

Maisa came to Lebanon three years ago with seven family members after their home in Syria was bombed. Her father is stuck in Syria. The whole family is living in one tiny room. But Maisa thinks of herself as lucky compared to other children she's met who live in tents and shower only once a week. 

Maisa is one of 250,000 refugee children in Lebanon who can’t go to school. She says, "No one from my family can go to school. It is very expensive and some of us are not allowed because we don't have documents.

But thanks to MECA supporters like you and the Al-Jalil Cultural Center in Lebanon, Maisa is continuing her education along with other refugee children.

I go to the Center every day for three hours. I learn math, English, and Arabic. On weekends, I learn how to use the computer. It is not enough, but still, it's the only place for me to learn something."

I asked Maisa what she wanted to be in the future, she told me she's afraid of the future, and that she only wants to go back to her home and play with her friends as she did before the war changed everything.  

When I talk with Maisa and other refugee children from Syria, it brings back my own feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and anger from childhood.

Like all refugee children, Maisa has been forced to grow up too fast. Her childhood has been assassinated. MECA and the Al-Jalil Cultural Center are trying to give her hope by allowing her to learn new things and to imagine a better future.

Links:

Art class!
Art class!

With your support, MECA is able to continue financial support for this vital school for 267 children who are refugees from Syria living in Lebanon.

The students take Arabic, English, Math and Computer courses. And the teachers report that the students are progressing well!

The success of this project is evident from the response of the local community and families. One teacher writes their "Some parents have come to the center to offer their thanks to teachers as a result of visible results on their children at all levels of education and learning." 

But that's not all, the children are also getting the chance to take art classes, storytelling workshops, and go on field trips.

MECA will be funding a summer camp for the children and a second year of classes to start in September 2016.

Taking notes
Taking notes
Field trip to Baalbek Castle
Field trip to Baalbek Castle
Buying winter shoes
Buying winter shoes
This winter, refugees from Syria in Lebanon are facing cold temperatures, rain, wind, and even snow. Winter is the worst time of year for people in refugee camps. 
 
But your support of MECA is helping some of the children and families stay warm this winter.
 
Thanks to you, 600 children just received shoes and warm clothes. 1,330 families have gas for heaters, and vouchers for food and hygiene products to use at local stores. These photos are from the Children of Al-Jalil Center in Lebanon. 
 
As you know, over a million people have fled the war in Syria to Lebanon.  Most arrived with few belongings and very little money. 
 
For nearly 5 years, thanks to supporters like you, MECA has been providing basic necessities for Syrian families in Lebanon. Now, we are also providing special classes for children who have not been able to attend school in Lebanon.
 
MECA staff are also distributing warm clothes, along with plastic tarps, to families in Gaza who are still living in damaged homes or flimsy trailers since the Israeli assault in 2014.
 
Your support sends a message of hope and solidarity to people who have lost so much and are struggling just to survive.
Children taking home their new winter clothes
Children taking home their new winter clothes
Snowy winter in Lebanon
Snowy winter in Lebanon
Taking home gas for his family
Taking home gas for his family's heater
One of the classrooms
One of the classrooms

With your support, we are funding a full year of classes in English, Arabic, math, and computers for 267 children in Lebanon. These children are Syrian refugees who can't attend the local schools because they have fallen behind, they don't have the correct paperwork, their families can't afford the uniforms and registration fees, or there is simply no room for them in the classrooms.

Our partner, the Children of Jalil Center, is running an informal school. 87 of the children are illiterate and are getting intensive courses in reading and writing. All of the children also take part in weekend psychosocial activities like sports, dance, and music. 

After the first month of classes, one of the teachers commented "I am very happy because I sensed improvement, and this makes me very optimistic, after it became the boys distinguish some Arabic and English letters as well as numbers and operations of addition and subtraction."

Art time!
Art time!
 

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Organization Information

Middle East Children's Alliance

Location: Berkeley, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.mecaforpeace.org
Project Leader:
Josie Shields-Stromsness
Berkeley, CA United States

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