Bad experiences often have a toll on an individual's personality. When a child is raised in vulnerable circumstances, his behaviour and well-being are affected. As for adults, some of them accept and adapt, whereas others fight to create a better life for their families and themselves. Waad, a 27-year- old mother of two little boys, Taim, five, and Adam, four, is one of who refuses to settle. She works hard every day to achieve what she aspires to and provide the best for her boys.
With funding provided by the United States Government, KREA and in partnership with The Charitable association for educational services in Qaroun- Beqaa, World Vision is targeting 500 students, between the ages of three and six and affected by the Syrian crisis, in 11 Early Childhood Education classes. Due to the limited pre-schooling opportunities, this programme is a holistic approach which prepares children for enrolment in primary education in Lebanon.
Joint efforts for a better future
When Taim was younger, Waad used all her motherly tricks to boost his morale. "He was very insecure and always isolated himself from other children," she explains, "Taim had low self-esteem due to his dark skin. He did not go outside the tent to play with other kids. He preferred to stay in.”
"Three years ago, World Vision approached us, requesting volunteers for a committee here in the settlement to help the community. I was curious to know more about it and the role of the committee, so I signed up," she explains. Waad learned about the Early Childhood Education sessions provided by World Vision at a centre near them, and she was excited about enrolling her sons. "I was happy seeing the progress with their behaviour and enthusiasm towards learning," she adds. "As for me, I was personally thrilled to attend the committee sessions with World Vision and learning new skills like first aid, and being able to help my entourage.” The children were both learning new things. Like their mother, the boys were eager to learn, and their brain was like a sponge. Taim is a brilliant student, the progress made at the centre is reflected now at school, according to his teacher. When asked about Taim, Mazen, his previous ECE teacher, recalls his first and last day at the centre. "When he first arrived in class, Taim had little passion for being part of the programme, but it surprised me how fast he progressed, especially in writing, reading, and even expressing himself. He needed more attention than other students, so we did our best to work on his social skills," he adds. "The last month for Taim at our centre, I felt confident that he would excel at school and he did." Waad pays close attention to his school work and asks his teachers regularly about his progress. They always compliment his hard work and the fast improvement he is making. Adam, on the other hand, had a strong personality but was a bit aggressive with people. However, after he started going to the centre, his character changed. "Adam never shared anything. He did not like to talk, but when he joined the sessions, he came home every day and told me everything about his day and what he learned”, Waad explains. She continues, “he made new friends and learned the alphabet, expressions, colours, how to paint, and how to wash his hands.”
Waad tries her best to meet her children's needs, but sometimes she finds herself hopeless. "Once, Taim came home from school with a sad face. When I asked him what the problem was, he confessed that his classmates have homes made of walls and not a wooden tent like ours. He also added that they have their own bedrooms." Waad explained to him that one day they would have a proper home, but for now, she can prepare a private space for him in their tent instead of his bedroom.
Waad’s fight for progress
When the war in Syria started eight years ago, Waad had to escape to Lebanon with her family after witnessing the severe damage the war caused on their hometown. After a short period, Waad and her siblings had to face their new reality and start working in agriculture like several other refugee young women to provide for their parents. However, Waad has a strong opinion about her situation and the way she wants to be living her life. "The girls work for more than ten hours a day, and I am not used to that," she explains. Back in Syria, just before the start of the war, Waad had another dream. She wanted to be an Arabic teacher, so she studied hard to pass the official exams and enrolled herself in the university. Her days consisted of studying for school and participating in English and computer workshops. She praises her curiosity for learning and her love to add a new skill to her knowledge. She believes this is where her children's devotion to education comes from.
In Lebanon, Waad spent her days volunteering and working for a limited amount of money to keep nourishing her mind. After joining the committee, they were informed about a new psychosocial support (PSS) project with World Vision targeting working children and people encouraged Waad to apply for the PSS animator position. "I applied, and one month later, they called and told me that I got the job. At that moment, I felt that my two and a half years of volunteering finally paid off," she admits. She was proud of herself. She paid all the family’s debts and gained a lot of experience for herself and her children. "We used to give street working children sessions in their communities. I can say that the sessions helped my parenting skills a lot."
At times, refugee parents find themselves hopeless, especially when it comes to their children's needs and their aspirations for their futures and development. Waad’s will helped her provide for her family and her love for education was passed onto her children. This educational opportunity provided to refugee children by World Vision with Funding provided by the United States Government introduces children like Taim and Adam to education and its importance. And that is why these programmes receive tremendous gratitude from parents.