Moniya at school

Education is power

Conflicts force millions of people across the globe to leave their homeland, dispelling hope for the future, especially for children. In Lebanon however, some Syrian refugee children have hope of better future through education. World Vision, with support from UNICEF, DFID, and Australia, provides avenues for learning for children eager to build a bright future for themselves, showing them that giving up is not an option. Through the Early Childhood Education programme, 600 Syrian refugee children, aged between three and six, are getting ready to join formal schooling by learning the alphabet, numbers, languages, shapes, and colors through 400 sessions.

Moniya with her mom

In 2014, Hanadi, 30, came to Lebanon with her husband. Safely away from the war, Hanadi gave birth to two daughters, Moniya and Salam. At the age of two, Moniya witnessed the death of her cousin after a tree fell on her during a winter storm in Lebanon. “Since the incident, Moniya has been facing a lot of difficulties such as not being able to speak. Whenever there’s rain, she wakes up even if she was in deep sleep and cries a lot,” Hanadi explains. When the education team at World Vision visited the informal settlement and pitched programme, Moniya directly refused to join. At the time, she was only three years old, but Hanadi insisted. “Education is really important and Moniya should have this right, even if she has difficulties in communicating with other people. It is essential to learn,in order to move forward,” adds Hanadi.

“When Moniya first came to the center, she cried all the time. After a while, she got used to my presence, but she never talked to other children. She always stayed next to me. When she was around unfamiliar faces, she could not stop yelling and I could not even leave the class for a minute,” recalls Afrah, Moniya’s teacher at the center. “However, after a month, we started sensing progress. She had no problem sitting next to her classmates. Three months later, she was able to play with her peers and talk to me about what she wanted to paint or write,” continues Afrah. “The group activities were a big help. When Moniya joined the class, we preferred not to work with each student individually so that Moniya can integrate through the collective games,” she adds.

Playing with friends

“Moniya is smart but needs some time to improve. She now wears her clothes alone. Every day when she comes back home from the center, she repeats everything she learnt by herself, and she talks all the time about her teachers. She loves them deeply,” Hanadi say happily.

It has been two years since Moniya joined the programme. “I love to come here to the center, I have friends and we play together during recess. I know the letters and I can write on the board,” Moniya expresses.“When I grow up, I want to become a teacher to help my younger sister Salam with her studies,” Moniya states.

Moniya, like other children, is persistent and willing to forge her path through education. With support from UNICEF, DFID, and Australia and through World Vision’s Early Childhood Education programme, Syrian refugee children have a reason to hope!