Twelve year-old *Haya was born in Raqqa, and lived there through most of the war, at the heart of ISIS’ Caliphate. The family made several unsuccessful attempts to leave. Finally, after ISIS were forced out, the family fled to Lebanon in 2017, and Haya began attending Global Care’s Shack School.
“After they went through the atrocities of the war, Haya was pretty much under the influence of what she had to go through,” say our partners. “She was hateful, critical and violent. But toward the middle of the school year Haya began to change thanks to the effort, love, care and impartation of the teachers.
“Academically she improved a lot as she could barely read, but at the end of year school celebration, Haya was able to recite a poem which she memorised. She loves music and participates a lot in the songs sung every morning. Her dream is to become a teacher one day.”
Haya is just one of the 142 children from Syrian refugee families to have attended our Shack School in the last year. For many of the children, the basic education they receive in this informal school is the only chance of education they have.
We are committed to funding the Shack School initiative at least until June 2020, while we watch international developments. The Lebanese government are trying to encourage refugee families to return to Syria once their home area becomes safe, but there has been little sign of movement as yet from refugee families in the Bekaa Valley.
Attendance is an ongoing issue, particularly during harvest season. Families remove their children from school in order to work in the fields, boosting their income, even though the school operates in shifts, so none of the children stay all day. Our partners work hard to encourage families to keep their children in school and to prioritise education.
Global Care is also exploring an opportunity to begin a new project supporting children back into the classroom within Syria itself.
A total of 100 extremely vulnerable families have been identified via the Red Crescent, and Global Care has given $1000 to help potential new partners explore what the families’ needs are, and the best way of helping the children access effective education.
The new partners are a Christian couple who remained in Syria throughout the fighting, even though they had dual citizenship rights in Europe. They have registered a charity in Syria, and are known to our partners in Lebanon, who are managing the financial aspects of the initiative.
They are exploring the development of a new project in a mixed Sunni / Orthodox suburb of Damascus which was on the frontline of fighting for many years. The research phase of the project will finish in mid-2019, with the hope of starting a new initiative from September, if appropriate.
CEO John White said: “We are very keen to come alongside children who have lived in Syria throughout the war, many of whom have never known the country at peace. Their own needs are huge, and the school system is only just beginning to recover from a state of collapse. As refugees begin to return, even more pressure is placed on over-stretched services. However, it’s important that we don’t simply assume what the families need, but invest time in talking to them to find out what they want. We are excited to be funding this research, and look forward to receiving the results.”