The flood of refugees into Lebanon from the Syrian conflict has created a humanitarian crisis that is straining Lebanon’s resources.  Humanitarian and development organizations like ANERA have stepped up to the challenge of providing relief aid and also support for families trying to find some sense of normalcy under difficult conditions. In recognition of World Refugee Day, we honor the men, women and children who face the daily challenge of survival but never give up hope for a more peaceful future.

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

Baby Leen was born shortly after her family fled the conflict in Syria and reached Ein El Helweh camp in Lebanon.

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

Sedra, 3, fled Syria's conflict with her family more than two years ago and now lives with eight others in a one-room shack in Burg El Shemali camp in Lebanon.

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

Ahmed, 5, and his father Ahmad Abu Baker receive a relief package in Rashidiyeh camp, Lebanon after fleeing the bombings in Yarmuk, Syria.

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

Two young refugee teens enjoy a day of fun on the soccer field ANERA refurnished in Beddawi camp, Lebanon.

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

Young refugee girls enjoy a game of soccer in the stadium ANERA refurbished in Beddawi camp in Lebanon

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

Zacharia is a impish three-year-old now lives in Ein El Helweh camp in Lebanon. He is the sole male of his family after this father disappeared in Syria's conflict.

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

15-year-old Batoul is a refugee from Syria. Her arm was injured in a bombing in Syria but now safe in Burj El Burajneh camp Lebanon she has regained the use of her arm and helps with the cooking.

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

Tending a flourishing vegetable garden in Nahr El Bared refugee camp in Lebnanon.

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon

Refugee children from Syria meet for some fun activities during one of ANERA's Open Day celebrations in Burj El Burajneh camp in Lebanon

World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon thumbnail
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon thumbnail
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon  thumbnail
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon  thumbnail
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon thumbnail
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon thumbnail
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon thumbnail
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon  thumbnail
World Refugee Day 2014 Lebanon thumbnail

 

 

West Bank preschoolers in Beit Mirzim tossing balloons in their new classroom.

West Bank Villages Open New Preschools

May 19th, 2014 by lkassman

Four-year old Manal could not believe her eyes when she saw her new preschool. “I couldn’t sleep all night because I was thinking about when I could play with my friends in my new school.”

Manal lives in the West Bank village of Beit Mirsim where ANERA recently rebuilt the village preschool. The inauguration ceremony was a colorful celebration for Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir villages which are both benefiting from new facilities.

ANERA is expanding its ECD program to establish kindergartens in eight West Bank public schools.

Like many remote villages in the Hebron area, unemployment is rampant and few can afford to pay tuition or transportation fees to send their children to preschool. But that reality has changed since 2010, when ANERA initiated its early childhood development (ECD) program, known as Right Start!, to bring quality preschool education to remote communities like Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir.

Outside view of newly renovated kindergarten in Beit Mirzim public school

Outside view of Anab Al Kabir Preschool classes.

Thanks to funding from Dubai Cares and support from the Palestinian Ministry of Education, ANERA is establishing kindergarten classes within existing elementary schools across the West Bank.

“This is a groundbreaking development in the ministry’s campaign to make preschool education available to the most marginalized communities of the West Bank and Gaza,” said Deputy Education Minister Jehad Zakarneh. The minister, along with community officials, families and children participated in the festive inauguration of the Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir preschools.

Children perform in inauguration ceremony at Beit Mirzim preschool opening in West Bank.

Children perform in inauguration ceremony at Beit Mirsim preschool.

Under its ECD program ANERA remodeled and outfitted the preschools with curtains, carpets, child-sized tables and chairs and painted in pastel child-friendly colors that brought smiles to the children’s faces when they discovered their new surroundings.

The school’s playground was redesigned with safety in mind. So were the bathrooms, which were properly sized for the youngsters. ANERA also provided high quality learning materials, from books and puzzles to art materials and a special reading corner space.

ANERA also trained the preschool teachers to provide skills and tools for stimulating the children’s creativity and love of learning. 

That love was evident when young Mohammad saw his new kindergarten class in Anab Al Kabir village: “I want to stay in this class. I don’t want to grow old or ever leave. I love it here.”

 

View slideshow of opening ceremony at Beit Mirsim Preschool

West Bank boys with hoops at opening of preschool Beit Mirzim
West Bank girl in traditional dress at opening of new preschool
Colorful playground at Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank
Children perform in inauguration ceremony at Beit Mirzim preschool opening in West Bank.
Girl carrying flag in Beit Mirsim opening ceremony, West Bank
Girls with baskets at Beit Mirsim opening ceremony, West Bank
Girls with flags in opening ceremony for Beit Mirsim school, West Bank
Boys play drums for opening of Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank
View of a room in new preschool in Beit Mirsim, West Bank
Girl scouts in formation for Beit Mirsim preschool opening, West Bank
Girl in traditional dress sings at Beit Mirsim school, West Bank
View of play area in Beit Mirsim's new preschool, West Bank
New child-high sinks in Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank
Girl scouts at opening ceremony of Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank
Three West Bank girls in traditional dress celebrate their new school

West Bank boys with hoops at opening of preschool Beit Mirzim

West Bank girl in traditional dress at opening of new preschool

Colorful playground at Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank

West Bank preschoolers at Beit Mirzim's inauguration ceremony

Children perform in inauguration ceremony at Beit Mirzim preschool opening in West Bank.

Girl carrying flag in Beit Mirsim opening ceremony, West Bank

Girls with baskets at Beit Mirsim opening ceremony, West Bank

Girls with flags in opening ceremony for Beit Mirsim school, West Bank

Boys play drums for opening of Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank

View of a room in new preschool in Beit Mirsim, West Bank

Girl scouts in formation for Beit Mirsim preschool opening, West Bank

Girl in traditional dress sings at Beit Mirsim school, West Bank

View of play area in Beit Mirsim's new preschool, West Bank

New child-high sinks in Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank

Girl scouts at opening ceremony of Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank

Three West Bank girls in traditional dress celebrate their new school

West Bank boys with hoops at opening of preschool Beit Mirzim thumbnail
West Bank girl in traditional dress at opening of new preschool thumbnail
Colorful playground at Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank thumbnail
West Bank preschoolers at Beit Mirzim's inauguration ceremony thumbnail
Girl carrying flag in Beit Mirsim opening ceremony, West Bank thumbnail
Girls with baskets at Beit Mirsim opening ceremony, West Bank thumbnail
Girls with flags in opening ceremony for Beit Mirsim school, West Bank thumbnail
Boys play drums for opening of Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank thumbnail
View of a room in new preschool in Beit Mirsim, West Bank thumbnail
Girl scouts in formation for Beit Mirsim preschool opening, West Bank thumbnail
Girl in traditional dress sings at Beit Mirsim school, West Bank thumbnail
View of play area in Beit Mirsim's new preschool, West Bank thumbnail
New child-high sinks in Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank thumbnail
Girl scouts at opening ceremony of Beit Mirsim preschool, West Bank thumbnail
Three West Bank girls in traditional dress celebrate their new school  thumbnail

Nawras al-Hroob, 26 years old, was born and raised in Dera’a, Syria. He remembers it as a calm, friendly neighborhood. That all changed in March 2011, when anti-regime uprisings in Dera’a marked the start of civil war. In 2013, Nawras, along with his parents and four younger siblings, fled the fighting and sought refuge in Lebanon. Today, Nawras is one of more than one million Syrians registered as refugees in Lebanon. 

With ANERA’s help, Hamshari Hospital provides more than 7,000 dialysis sessions a year.

His life as a refugee is hard and even more complicated by a life-threatening kidney disease. Since 2007 Nawras has required three hours of dialysis services three times a week. When he arrived to Lebanon, Nawras settled in Beirut and initially used the dialysis services of a Beirut hospital. He had to pay $150 for each dialysis session in addition to the medicines he needed. It was a heavy burden for his family who have been impoverished by their precarious situation. 

Nawras, one of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, getting dialysis at Hamshari hospital near Saida.

Nawras, one of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, getting dialysis treatment.

But relief has come for Nawras at Hamshari Hospital, where he is getting the dialysis and medicines he needs free of charge. It take him a bit longer to get there but he says the extra travel time is worth it. “If this center did not exist I would have not been alive today to speak to you,” he explains. “I can’t find a job and my family can’t afford the treatment so this is a life-saver.” 

Hamshari hospital is managed and funded by long-time ANERA partner Health Care Society. Through ANERA’s in-kind program, the hospital receives vital medicines and medical supplies. Earlier in 2014, ANERA received over 7,000 vials of Albumin, generously donated by AmeriCares for Lebanon. The serum is essential for many dialysis patients, but at $60 a vial in the local economy it is prohibitively expensive.

“During a dialysis treatment, many patients experience fluid retention,” explains Dr. Ahmad Jindawi, the head of the dialysis unit. “Albumin helps pull extra fluid from swollen tissue back into the blood. By reducing fluid retention, Albumin can actually save a person’s life.” 

Dr Ahmed Jindawi runs Hamshari hospital's dialysis center and treats refugees from Syria in Lebanon.

Dr Ahmed Jindawi runs Hamshari hospital’s dialysis center

Dr Jindawi’s dialysis unit, under the auspices of the Palestinian Red Crescent, was established at Hamshari Hospital in 1996 to serve Palestinian refugees who do not benefit from public health care in Lebanon. The hospital now is treating some impoverished Syrian refugees too.

The hospital is located on the outskirts of Mieh Mieh camp in the southern area of Saida. it is the only center in Lebanon that provides dialysis services free of charge for Palestinian refugees. About 40 patients come daily from all over the country to receive the life-saving treatment, including refugees like Nawras.

Dr. Jindawi says his team provides as many as 7,500 dialysis sessions and associated medicines free of charge every year for his patients, thanks to ANERA’s in-kind program and generous donors like AmeriCares. 

 

This is the third year that ANERA has distributed new TOMS Shoes to thousands of refugee children in Gaza, but this time was even more special. ANERA was able to incorporate the delivery into this year’s de-worming program as a way to help protect children from soil-transmitted parasites.

ANERA has delivered TOMS Shoes and boots to thousands of refugee children in Gaza and Lebanon.

In Al Mosadar village, one mother stressed how important the shoes are to protecting her children against parasites, a preventive measure she learned during one of ANERA’s parasite awareness sessions.

Gaza preschooler shows his new TOMS Shoes that will help protect him from soil-based parasites.

ANERA distributed TOMS Shoes as part of its health campaign against parasites, which are often contracted through bare feet.

“After getting all the information about parasite infections, I was concerned about my children walking around outside barefoot or in torn sandals.” She says keeping her children’s feet clean and dry is essential. “What I like about the TOMS Shoes is I can protect my child’s feet from parasites and they love wearing them,” adds Iman.

The shoes were also distributed in the impoverished Bedouin village of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, where poverty is rampant and the price of a good pair of shoes is beyond the reach of most families.

Father and son are one of many who received ANERA's delivery of TOMS Shoes to flood victims in Gaza.

Loay, a Gaza flood victim, gets new TOMS Shoes.

Preschool youngsters there were excited to show off their new shoes and gathered in the school’s playground.

“I love my shoes because they’re new and sturdy,” shouted Anas Darweesh. “They’re comfy and clean,” smiled Ayman Abu Ghazele before running off to play.

ANERA also distributed TOMS Shoes to children affected by the December 2013 torrential rains and flooding in Gaza City. Loay El-Jadbah and his father were among the flood victims who, like thousands of others, were displaced from their home.

Loay and his family took shelter in a nearby school and spent the night with no food, clothes, blankets or shoes. All of their belongings were destroyed. “It has taken us time to get over the disaster and gather clothes and shoes for the family,” Loay’s father explained. So, the delivery of TOMS Shoes to Loay’s school was a most welcome gift. Loay insists he will never take them off.

Winter Boots for Refugee Children in Lebanon 

This was the second year that ANERA has delivered TOMS Shoes In Lebanon, but it was the first delivery of sturdy, rubber-soled winter boots.

For the children at Al Inaash preschool in Wavel camp, it was a welcome surprise.

Kids in Lebanon's Wavel camp get new TOMS boots to keep their feet warm and dry in winter.

Kids in Lebanon’s Wavel camp get new TOMS boots to keep their feet warm and dry in winter.

Wavel is located high up in the mountains near Baalbeck and considered one of the coldest areas in Lebanon where winter is characterized by heavy rain and snow. “I can run fast with my new shoes and my feet stay warm and dry,” exclaimed one of the preschoolers.

Palestinian girl shows her new pair of TOMS boots that were delivered to preschoolers in Lebanon's refugee camps.

Palestinian preschooler shows off her new TOMS boots

Teachers at nearly 70 UNRWA preschools in Lebanon’s Wavel and Nahr El Bared refugee camps where the boots were delivered expressed their thanks and explained that many children were coming to school without proper shoes or winter clothes. So many Palestinian refugees who fled the fighting in Syria arrived in Lebanon with little more than the clothes and shoes they were wearing.

They were unprepared for the cold, damp winter they had to endure in substandard makeshift shelters in Lebanon’s refugee camps. ANERA’s delivery of warm TOMS boots to thousands of children in the camps was a most welcome relief.

View the slideshow:

Palestinian preschooler in Lebanon camp cuddles his TOMS Boots
Palestinian kid in Lebanon camp gets fitted with new TOMS boots
Gaza mother and daughter who is wearing new TOMS Shoes
Gaza girl in red with red TOMS Shoes
Gaza preschoolers sitting on bench with their new TOMS Shoes
Gaza preschooler getting foot measured for TOMS Shoes
Gaza preschooler gets blue TOMS Shoes fitted on feet
Two Gaza preschool boys in costumes show their TOMS Shoes
Six Gaza preschoolers in costumes and wearing Toms Shoes
Five Gaza preschoolers in TOMS Shoes get ready to race
Gaza girl wearing new TOMS poses on playground slide
Gaza girl wearing red TOMS Shoes against green wall
Gaza flood victim family wearing new TOMS Shoes
Gaza boy wearing new TOMS Shoes in jungle gym
Gaza boys in TOMS Shoes seated against a wall at school

Palestinian preschooler in Lebanon camp cuddles his TOMS Boots

Palestinian kid in Lebanon camp gets fitted with new TOMS boots

Gaza mother and daughter who is wearing new TOMS Shoes

Gaza girl in red with red TOMS Shoes

Gaza preschoolers sitting on bench with their new TOMS Shoes

Gaza preschooler getting foot measured for TOMS Shoes

Gaza preschooler gets blue TOMS Shoes fitted on feet

Two Gaza preschool boys in costumes show their TOMS Shoes

Six Gaza preschoolers in costumes and wearing Toms Shoes

Five Gaza preschoolers in TOMS Shoes get ready to race

Gaza girl wearing new TOMS poses on playground slide

Gaza girl wearing red TOMS Shoes against green wall

Gaza flood victim family wearing new TOMS Shoes

Gaza boy wearing new TOMS Shoes in jungle gym

Gaza boys in TOMS Shoes seated against a wall at school

Palestinian preschooler in Lebanon camp cuddles his TOMS Boots  thumbnail
Palestinian kid in Lebanon camp gets fitted with new TOMS boots  thumbnail
Gaza mother and daughter who is wearing new TOMS Shoes  thumbnail
Gaza girl in red with red TOMS Shoes  thumbnail
Gaza preschoolers sitting on bench with their new TOMS Shoes  thumbnail
Gaza preschooler getting foot measured for TOMS Shoes  thumbnail
Gaza preschooler gets blue TOMS Shoes fitted on feet  thumbnail
Two Gaza preschool boys in costumes show their TOMS Shoes  thumbnail
Six Gaza preschoolers in costumes and wearing Toms Shoes  thumbnail
Five Gaza preschoolers in TOMS Shoes get ready to race thumbnail
Gaza girl wearing new TOMS poses on playground slide thumbnail
Gaza girl wearing red TOMS Shoes against green wall  thumbnail
Gaza flood victim family wearing new TOMS Shoes  thumbnail
Gaza boy wearing new TOMS Shoes in jungle gym  thumbnail
Gaza boys in TOMS Shoes seated against a wall at school thumbnail

Adra’s leg was injured while out shopping for food in Yarmouk camp last July when shooting erupted there. Like more than one million other Syrian war refugees, Adra and her family decided it was time to seek safety elsewhere and fled the Syria conflict. She was three months pregnant but that did not stop her or her husband and four children from fleeing across the border and into Lebanon’s Ein El Helweh refugee camp.

ANERA has delivered relief supplies to 8,000+ in Ein El Helweh and nearby gatherings.

Ein El Helweh, built in 1966, is the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon, with nearly 70,000 residents. Its living conditions are bleak, its services inadequate. And, it is one of the most dangerous camps in the country. Today, Ein El Helweh is hosting the largest number of Palestinian refugees from Syria’s conflict with over 7,000 newcomers.

Children and their families end up in makeshift tent in Lebanon refugee camp after fleeing Syria conflict.

Children and their families end up in makeshift tents in Lebanon refugee camp after fleeing Syria conflict.

Adra’s family used to own a house in Syria, but left all their belongings behind and arrived in Lebanon with just the clothes they were wearing. Families in Ein El Helweh offered them a place in an open field inside the camp to pitch a tent. The family combined plastic sheets, blankets found in the garbage and concrete blocks to construct an improvised shelter. They are not alone. Dozens of other families have erected tents in the rubble-filled field, creating a makeshift camp within a camp for families from Syria.

Adra is anemic and says her health has deteriorated since her injury, provoking the premature delivery of her baby Leen, who weighed only two kilograms (less than 4.5lbs) when she was born a month early during the cold, damp winter.

Warm Clothes and Blankets Among Relief Supplies

Adra keeps her baby wrapped in the warm baby clothes and blankets delivered by ANERA. “She is still very weak,” explains her mother, looking at the sleeping baby with love and care. “I am breastfeeding her so she can grow strong.”

After fleeing Syria conflict, a mother in Ein El Helweh refugee camp, Lebanon, awaits relief supplies for her family.

Refugee mother gets relief supplies for her family.

ANERA partnered with the community-based organization Najdeh Association to provide relief kits to Adra and 2,300 Palestinian families from Syria in Ein El Helweh and nearby gatherings. Each kit included winter blankets, quilts, heaters, rechargeable emergency flashlights, hygiene items and warm clothes for women and children to help them cope with the cold months of winter. The relief supplies were composed of items purchased thanks to a grant from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) as well as in-kind donations of quilts, baby care kits, personal care kits and toothpaste donated by Lutheran World Relief and shipped with the support of Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA).

Adra says the flashlights are proving a useful tool since there is little daylight in the tents and electricity in the camp is often cut for hours. “We used to have to buy candles for about $1 a day,” explains Adra. “Now we can recharge the flashlight when the power is on and it lasts for more than 12 hours.”

Like almost every Palestinian refugee from Syria, Adra and her husband cannot find work in Lebanon so the family survives on meager savings and humanitarian aid. The assistance, she says, is helping them focus on other basic needs, like food and health care.

Adra confesses that even in Lebanon she fears for her family’s safety. The spillover of Syria’s factional conflicts, she says, is making the camp violent and unstable. “There is no security in Ein El Helweh,” she says. “At night, I sleep with my clothes on so I’m ready to run at any moment.”

As the Syrian conflict enters a fourth year, refugees in Lebanon still cling to the hope of a better future. Adra’s shelter is filled with laughing children and friendly neighbors who stop by to offer support.

A friend smiles sadly, “We Palestinians know how to build a lot out of nothing.”