Hussein, Moustafa, and Douaa’ are three Syrian refugee children residing in Lebanon. Life away from the war did not mean a normal and healthy childhood. The girl and two boys were forced to become the income-providers for their families, by selling tissue paper and other products on the dangerous roads of the Bekaa. However, in the midst of this adult-like life, the children found joy and safety in World Vision’s psycho-social support programming for children who are victims of child labor. Through the community-based psychosocial sessions in the Bekaa, World Vision is creating a safe environment for Syrian refugee children where they can learn self-acceptance and how to identify their feelings, safe places and much more.
Hussein, 11, from Aleppo, spends his days on the streets of Bekaa selling tissue papers and making 6000 LL (four USD) per day to support his family. “It’s not always safe on the streets,” he confirms. “I wait impatiently for these sessions so I can play with my friends. My favorite game is ‘Imitate the teacher’, it is very funny.”
Moustafa, 13, still remembers the sounds of the missiles hitting his hometown Aleppo before escaping the war three years ago. “My father had a stroke in one of his arms and one leg, so I had to work on the streets selling tissue papers. I feel safe during these sessions, and I like the games we play here. I want to go back to Syria so I can build a better future.”
“I give the money to my mom so she can prepare us food. I enjoy coming to these sessions, says Douaa’, 12, who has been living in Lebanon since she was six. Douaa’ also works on the streets selling tissue paper and water. “We learn and play games here. Now I know how to protect myself,” she adds, “one day I want to stop working on the streets and go back to school.”
Ghazi Aboud, an animator in the program who works closely with the children, highlights the importance of these sessions. “These children suffer from discrimination and violence on a daily basis. It is their right to have an appropriate childhood where they can learn and play. We try our best to create an environment that can help them forget all the misery they go through.”
World vision, in partnership with UNICEF and funding provided by the United States Government and the Department for International Development, aims to provide 600 Syrian refugee children with a safe environment where they can play, learn, and live a normal childhood away from abuse, violence, and the risks they confront by working, especially on the streets.