The news that is coming from Syria is shocking, tragic and terribly sad. Refugees are pouring over the borders in their thousands and by the beginning of September there were estimated to be 723,000 refugees in Lebanon – for a country with a population of just under 4 million people that is a lot of extra people to cope with. By the end of this year the number of Syrian children refugees is expected to reach half a million in Lebanon.
Aid for shelter, food and medicines is steadily arriving from international donors, but as we know food and shelter is not enough for the children living through this terrible conflict. IBBY believes that children who are suffering from natural disaster, displacement, war and its aftermath, desperately need books and stories as well as food, shelter, clothing and medicines. These are necessities and are not mutually exclusive.
Aid agencies working with the children have noted that most of them are showing classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Even though the children are now hundreds of miles away from the front lines of the war, they are haunted by what they saw and what they lived through
The Lebanese Board on Books for Young People (LBBY) is a registered organization that is concerned with the well being of children and the promotion of reading. It has participated in the development and installation of numerous school libraries. It has also addressed the psycho-emotional needs of Lebanese children and young people after the civil war (1975-90) and the 2006 war with Israel through a special programme designed for that purpose.
The Nasma Learning and Resource Centre, established by Al Huda society for Social Care, is a registered organization that concentrates on the needs of underprivileged students from public schools with the motto “Give them an Opportunity.” Nasma has already worked with displaced Syrian children during the scholastic year 2011-2012 and has succeeded in helping them cope with the challenges they were meeting in their new environment.
Nasma and LBBY are particularly concerned with the thousands of Syrian children that have been arriving in Lebanon looking for refuge from the violence their communities are being exposed to. This state of affairs was no choice of theirs, but they were caught in it and many are suffering its consequences on their physical, social, emotional and academic levels. Together LBBY and Nasma will work to help these children and their families.
Dr Julinda Abu Nasr from the Lebanese American University and Dr John Chimanti from the American University of Beirut designed a project based on research done in Lebanon during the 16-year war, that ended in 1990. This activity is now being proposed for the current situation. The therapeutic programme using books, theatre, and other methods to help children understand their own feelings, express them and recognise those of others was administered to 5,000 children between the ages of 7-14, who were exposed to violence during the war and then the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. In both situations the results achieved with children proved successful and rewarding.
It was also shown that once the teachers were trained in the techniques presented on the academic or the psycho-social levels, it enhanced their teaching skills and their work with the children continued to improve. It has also a rippling effect since the trainees can teach others the techniques they learn.
Please help us to help IBBY Lebanon bring relief to the children caught up in this latest disaster that has struck again at the very people who struggle throughout their normal lives.
All donations are welcome. You can donate through the IBBY website by using a credit card or by making direct transfers using your bank: follow the following link: IBBY Children in Crisis Fund.
Send a donation to IBBY and the IBBY National Section of Lebanon will use it to help these children that are so lost and in need of help.