The once dilapidated walls of the kindergarten at Ein el-Hilweh camp are now greatly improved thanks to a grant from UMCOR.0
UMCOR and ANERA collaborate to create safe, hope-filled learning environment for the smallest refugees.
For Palestinian Syrian children in two refugee camps in Lebanon, life has just gotten a little brighter. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) have partnered to redo the children’s preschools from top to bottom.
ANERA repaired, repainted and refurnished the preschools in Burj El Barajneh and Ein El Helweh camps, with grant support from UMCOR for ANERA’s Early Childhood Development work. Now UMCOR has provided new funding to ANERA to renovate two more preschools in other camps.
These camps are the temporary home of Palestinian Syrians who fled the violence in Syria, now burning through its fourth year. Over time, the enormous flow of refugees has caused the preschools in the camps to become crowded and the need for repairs and upgrades urgent.
The renovations already accomplished have provided for greater hygiene and greatly encouraged the preschools’ programs of interactive learning.
“Windows and roofs have been sealed against bad weather. Electricity has been upgraded, classrooms painted, and the bathrooms renovated to be child-size and sanitary,” says ANERA public health educator Nadine Abdallah. “We also updated playgrounds and installed new equipment to provide a safer environment for the children.”
Preschools in Shatila camp near the capital, Beirut, and in Burj Shemali, near the southern city of Tyre, are the next in line for refurbishment.
Hope amid strife
Many more preschool children stand to benefit in the ways described by Zeinat Farhoud, an educator at the Ein El Helweh facility. “Besides being exposed to numbers and letters, they also learn to socialize, to get along with other children, to share and engage with those around them,” she says. “Their time at preschool can give them some sense of normalcy.”
Intisar, the mother of one preschooler, appreciates the difference the improved surroundings and fresh learning materials make. “They teach our children through storytelling and games, which makes learning fun,” she says.
UMCOR International Disaster Response executive, Rev. Jack Amick, says the project addresses the fundamental rights of children in times of strife. “Through this partnership with ANERA,” he says, “UMCOR seeks to bring hope to a population whose children have known only conflict.”
David Tereshchuk, journalist, media critic and regular contributor to www.umcor.org
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