Close to the Syrian border in Lebanon, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee children live in unimaginable poverty in temporary tent cities, without access to education. Many of them could not attend school for years already and are growing up without learning even basic skills. That’s why, in 2019, EfK with the support of Acronis joined forces with Zeltschule e.V to build a tent school in Barr Elias, near to the Syrian-Lebanese border.
The poverty and harsh living conditions often lead to children skipping class, because they need to work in the fields to gain a small wage for their family. Therefore, only providing a space and teachers does not guarantee these children have access to knowledge. The solution: food packages. Every week, each family receives a basic food package for the upcoming days. This small trick was successful: about 250 Syrian refugee children now attendclass regularly. They are taught by Syrian teachers – who also live in the camps – in two shifts,one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The tent school opened in May 2019 and has been a vibrant space full of happy concentrated faces ever since.
However, winter is again leading to unimaginable hardship. It has been snowing in Lebanon for several days now, especially at night. It is cold and the refugees living in the camp are constantly on edge, because the tarpaulins don’t bear the weight of the snow for a long time. Every two hours, the camp residents have to check their tent roof and, if necessary, they have to shovel the snow from the roofs.
During daytime, the snow melts and the camp becomes all muddy and wet. Many refugees do not have appropriate clothes or enough blankets to warm up. Firewood becomes extremely important but is a rare commodity. Imagine yourself living in a simple tent during winter…
But it doesn´t stop here – in addition, the political situation is worsening the living conditions of the Syrian refugees. The protests all over Lebanon lead to uncertainties, and this is one of the reasons why many organizations are withdrawing their support for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Therefore, it is even more important to keep up the work in our tent school in Bar Elias.
We are glad that our school is still going strong and that class can be held regularly. Every day, there is a four hours morning shift and a four hours afternoon shift.
The school never closes its doors for holidays because of two main reasons. On the one hand, school gives all Syrian children a daily structure and this structure helps them to cope with their traumatizing experiences. On the other hand, the teachers need time to impart knowledge to the pupils in an adequate way. Four hours per day would not be enough to reach the minimum standards of the curriculum. For the Syrian refugee children, the school provides a safe space amidst all the daily troubles and, often, they wait impatiently for the weekend to be over.
This project has shown perfectly how a big impact for children can be achieved with a small budget – every support counts.