For many months, all of Neda’s* thoughts were of war. As an 11-year-old refugee living with her mother and younger brother in northern Lebanon, her days were a patchwork of competing emptiness, loss, sorrow, and fears about her father, imprisoned in Syria.
Concern Worldwide began an informal education programme in Lebanon, gathering children in tents, offering them the chance to learn, read, write, draw, and — most important — to laugh. Now Neda wakes up early, lives for her schoolwork and dreams of becoming a doctor. Her mother, 32-year-old Ameera*, is more circumspect, knowing a refugee child will face many barriers on the way to a professional career. “I can’t help but worry that she will be disappointed,” says Ameera as she offered guests bread with oil and za’atar. “At the same time, I’m so glad she has dreams. All we know about my husband is rumours, and my children miss him."
In Lebanon, the government opened public schools to Syrian children, but language barriers, overcrowding and the cost of transportation keep many refugee children out of school. Concern began responding in Lebanon in 2013, and supported the education of over 1,850 students in 25 learning spaces, as well as the career training for Lebanese and Syrian facilitators to help teach the children. Additionally, Concern was selected by UNICEF to run a homework support programme that includes 2,550 students, both Lebanese and Syrian, in 12 learning spaces, including three public schools.