Stories

Guarding the Dreams of the Youth in Refugee Camps

Peaceland foundation started various humanitarian assistance programs in Lebanon since 2019. Nadia, the manager of Manara Centre, is one of our crucial partners. Owing to her and the centre, our English courses for the youth and women empowerment programs have run smoothly. She herself leads colourful youth programs in Manara centre, from language, economics, first aid to music, theatre and film making. Here is the story about her and her program.

 

 

 

Training of skills, Caring for lives

 

Manara Centre is located in Bar Elias, a Syrian refugee gathering region in the Centre of the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Aimed to engage teenagers and young adults from 14-25, the youth empowerment programs in Manara centre were launched in 2018, funded by Lighthouse Peace Initiative (LPI). Currently it holds 76 students. They see Manara Centre as their second home.

 

This is what Nadia expected.

 

“I initiated programs for teenagers of this certain age because they have been left there without help,” Nadia explained. For the past ten years, Syrian refugees have caught the eyes of every humanitarian organisation, which made Beirut another “Republic of NGOs.” Child protection and women empowerment programs mushroomed, while surprisingly, no one talked much about young adults.

 

As a Palestinian refugee herself, Nadia understands their struggling. Plus, she believes that education is the solution, as it gives them a chance to explore the world and build their own lives.

 

In Manara Centre, the education system is tailored for the refugee youth. It considers their practical as well as psychological needs. To better recognise trauma-related symptoms in students, the centre hires some of their teachers with refugee background. For example, one of their music teachers is Syrian and the one teaches English literature is Palestinian. They are all qualified with a degree in their fields and experienced years in teaching.

 

Besides, Nadia insists in long-term consultation service alongside the vocational and technological training. “Here we help the student from A to Z. Once the young population joined the program, we would never leave them behind. We facilitate them to obtain the strength to face the world, and they can come back to us whatever difficulties they face in life”.

 

 

The Healing Power of Art

 

(Photo from https://lpicorp.org/manara-center/)

 

 

In the film making project, students produce a movie from scratch. Each word in the script, each piece of music in the background, and all the acting and editing are created and filmed by themselves. They were encouraged to show their talent and express their voice to the world.

In this comfortable and liberal environment, they are artists, film directors, interior designers… They can set their thoughts free and dream big.

 

(Photo from https://lpicorp.org/manara-center/)

 

 

Research has shown that art helps people in exploring identity (Stewart and Martin, 2019) and reconnecting with the world. Nadia hoped that the art courses here can provide the young a deeper self-recognition other than ‘a refugee.’ Better self-expression and a more complete self-identity will benefit them in fighting life challenges in future.

 

 

Reaching out of the centre

As the manager of the centre, it’s Nadia’s responsibility to keep the insistence and passion of the student on learning. To reduce the disturbance from real life, Nadia never hesitates to reach out solving potential problems out of the centre.

Covid 19 has a huge negative impact on refugees’ lives. Girls are at increased risk of child marriage and boys are more likely to be lured into child labour for supporting families. Manara Centre witnessed the challenges and figured out that the lack of awareness of education is one of the root causes. Therefore, their focus also lies on raise awareness and provide guidance for young couples. “We need to teach them the importance of education and how men should treat their women, and it will affect their next generation too.”

 

 

Protect education from attack

 

 

When Nadia talked about the program to us, her voice unconsciously rose high. She always feels that she has “a mission” for the refugee group. She knows that no one is born a refugee, but everyone is born with an innate desire for a happy and wonderful life. The right to education should be enjoyed by everyone. Peaceland foundation shares the same position with her. We dedicate to raise the awareness of the dire need of education in areas of armed conflict. We are seeking wider collaborations to work in the front line to protect education from attack.

 

 

 

 

Author: Li Ling

Editor: Li Tiange