The refugee kindergartens

An oasis in a harsh place


How Lebanon Trust helps refugees:

Lebanon Trust supports financially two kindergartens for children of refugee families. Refugee children’s lives are dominated by deprivation, violence and destruction. We raise funds to provide the children with some infrastructure, safe playgrounds, learning material as well as toys.

About refugee camps in Lebanon and the two kindergartens that we support:

In Lebanon there are 12 refugee camps recognised by the United Nations (UN). On a total population of about 4 million, Lebanon hosts 425’000 UN-registered long-term refugees, who are (descendants of) people who used to live in Palestine and who lost their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflicts in 1948 and 1967. Additionally, in recent years more than 1.1 million people have fled war and violence in neighbouring Syria and settled in Lebanon, too (source: UN Jan 2016).

Overall, today 1 out of 4 people in Lebanon is a refugee.

Refugees are marginalised and face a number of problems: lack of work, lack of rights, no access to public social services, very limited access to hospitals or schools. Life is particularly tough for the children. We at Lebanon Trust work to help them.

The Chatila refugee camp in Beirut established in 1949 by the Red Cross, hosts about 10000 “permanent” refugees – without counting the thousands of recent refugees fleeing the violence in Syria. Housing and infrastructure are extremely bad, shelters are damp and overcrowded, with open drains. Running water, electricity, garbage collection are a scarce luxury.

The Burj el Shemali refugee camp near Tyre (population: 21000), in the South of Lebanon, was established in 1948. It suffered a great deal of damage during the years of civil conflict and much work still needs to be done to improve the infrastructure. The current situation is made even more difficult by the influx of hundreds of refugee families from Syria.

The UN provide most of the services in the refugee camps, including schools, but generally not kindergartens.

In each of these camps there is a kindergarten, created by a local association called Najdeh, which runs kindergartens in several camps. We at Lebanon Trust collaborate with Najdeh.

  • Each kindergarten has more than 80 pupils, aged 3-5, from the camps and their surroundings
  • It is run by one supervisor and several animators
  • It offers classes 5 days/week for nine months, plus a 3-week Summer programme
  • Hygiene, health issue, dental care are part of the kindergarten programme. When needed, children are referred to a doctor
  • The kindergarten fee is about USD 100/year. Many families are exempt from it because of dire poverty; most financing comes from charities and private donors
  • The activities are made more difficult by the unstable political climate (which delays or interrupts classes from time to time) and by the presence of Islamic charities, whose free teaching focuses on religion from a very early age.

Najdeh’s programmes target these children’s problems, as well as involve parents and families. The kindergarten staff pay regular visits to the pupils’ homes to detect and solve problems affecting the children.

  • Children are taught (in Arabic and English) about the alphabet, numbers, drawing, health issues, etc and also their rights
  • Raising awareness on domestic violence and tackle related issues is part of the kindergarten programme as well
  • Mothers are kept involved, and children who are victims of violence and abuse at home receive increased support
  • Where necessary, mothers are encouraged to participate in activities such as training, education and credit programmes.