UNRWA schools in Lebanon help displaced Palestine refugee children regain a sense of normalcy

01 June 2013

30 May 2013
Lebanon

Maya Mousa, a 13-year old girl is one of the thousands of Palestine refugee children who were displaced along with their families as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria. In July 2012, Maya escaped from al-Hajar al-Aswad town in Syria, to resettle with her family of ten in a small house in Bourj al-Barajneh Palestine refugee camp in Lebanon.

Regaining a sense of normalcy

With a low voice and tender look, Maya recounts the events she witnessed during the past year. “When we first arrived here, I was in such a bad psychological state that I had to see a therapist,” she said, but when I enrolled in school, I felt much better.” As she was flipping the papers of her diary with overt pleasure to read us one of her stories, Maya expressed her love for writing, “I can express myself through writing, and my teacher helps me in choosing the topics.”

In her diary, Maya writes about all the things she witnessed in Syria, the destruction, the chaos, the pain. “Our neighbour’s house was demolished before our eyes. I was terrified. But now amid my friends and teachers, I feel very safe.

Like many other displaced Palestine refugee families from Syria, Maya’s families faced financial hardships. Her father, who was a trader in Syria, now works as a labourer at a local bakery. The family can hardly afford to pay for Maya’s needs at school.

Maya was one of hundreds of Palestine refugee children displaced from Syria who received school stationary and new clothing from UNICEF. “The stationary and vouchers that UNICEF gave us, helped us a lot,” she said.

“I dream of becoming an astronaut, of becoming a writer… of returning to our house in Syria,” Maya says when asked about her dreams for the future.

‘I now have stationary and summer clothes’

“My name is Ahmad and I get the highest grades in my class,” this is how Ahmad Qablawi, a 12-year old boy, introduced himself to us. Ahmad lives with nine members of his family in a two-room house on the outskirts of the Bourj al-Barajneh camp.

With the influx of refugees, finding affordable housing has become nearly impossible. The family pays US$ 300 in monthly rent.

When Ahmad arrived with his family to Lebanon in November 2012, his mother was reluctant to enroll him in school because she feared he won’t be able to easily adapt in a country he never visited before. When he was eventually enrolled in an UNRWA school, Ahmad’s mother had a hard time coming up with money for stationary and summer clothes.

Ahmad’s father still works in Syria. He risks his life to travel to Lebanon once a month to provide his family with money for monthly expenses, which is barely enough to cover rent payments.

“Thanks to UNICEF’s support, I now have stationary and summer clothes, and I am no longer compelled to leave school,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad, who loves drawing, drew a small painting to express his gratitude to UNICEF.

School bags, clothing for students displaced from Syria

Last week, UNICEF provided around 3,400 Palestine refugee children from Syria now continuing their education in UNRWA schools in Lebanon with school uniforms, school bags and clothing vouchers.

UNICEF has also assisted Palestine refugee children from Syria with in-kind donations of vaccines, medicines, medical tools, and hygiene and back-to-school kits.

UNICEF is one of UNRWA’s largest partners in education and health for children in Lebanon. It has contributed a total of US$ 1,033,280 to UNRWA’s regular programme since 2011, most of it going to learning support activities.

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