Before the war, the majority of Syrians had access to education, employment, and homes surrounded by neighbors and family. As of July 2015, approximately 1.5 million Syrians had sought refuge in neighboring Lebanon.
The children who have made this journey into Lebanon continue to endure extreme adversities, including exposure to violence, ongoing displacement, poverty, and volatile economic and social conditions. In a study of 371 Syrian refugee children, 90% had experienced between one and ten war-related events, and 50% had experienced between seven and ten. The most affected by the war are the Syrian children and the horrifying impact of the war continues to make their childhood one of distress and deprivation.
Mohomad, a 12-year-old boy, along with his family of 8 suffered immensely from the destruction caused by the war. They fled their hometown of Kser in Syria to leave behind daily violence, brutality and insecurity. Mohomad and his family sought refuge in Awadeh village in Lebanon where his father, Abed faces a double ordeal of unemployment in Lebanon along with the psychological impact of the war on his children.
Abed expresses the pain and psychological adversity that the war left on Mohamad’s life, “Once the fighting began, the security situation affected his school attendance due to the war-torn surroundings. He missed so many days of school in grades 1 and 2 that there were large gaps in his basic education. By grade 3, the violence became so bad that he no longer went to school”.
To meet the social-emotional needs of Syrian refugee children, Dubai Cares is supporting the International Rescue Committee’s remedial education program for Syrian children living in the Bekaa and Akkar regions of Lebanon. Dubai Cares’ Education in Emergencies: Evidence for Action (3EA) program in Lebanon benefits 4,600 Syrian refugee children with the aim to improve their literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional outcomes. With the integration of mindfulness activities for social-emotional learning into the education program, the 3EA program intends to decrease children’s stress levels, improve their social skills and well-being. The program also aims to improve children’s executive functioning skills. Increase psychological resilience and improved academic performance.
Mohamad is a student at Remedia Center in Awadah in Akkar region of Lebanon and concurrently enrolled at the Lebanese government second shift public school that was established in response to the influx of Syrian refugees into the country. Abed, who was a farmer in Syria and now unemployed in Lebanon, says that he noticed improvements in his son’s learning after being enrolled in the 3EA program. In the midst of crisis, Abed remains determined to see Mohomad meet all his ambitions. He wants Mohomad to improve his French language and computer skills. In addition, Abed mentioned that at home his son practices the mindfulness activities that he learned during the program supported by Dubai Cares.
The mindfulness activities have greatly improved the lives of children by addressing their social-emotional needs as Mohamad says: “I’ve started to recognize my feelings and to be able to express freely and fearlessly using my own simple words.
Mindfulness activities motivated me and encouraged me to attend the center regularly.” He adds, “I like mindfulness activities, they enable me to live the situation and start to imagine wonderful things and the world becomes a more peaceful place.” Mohamad further says, “I practice the mindfulness activities at home when I feel nervous, as this helps me to calm down and to become relaxed and comfortable again.”