Lebanon

More than one million Syrians are registered as refugees in Lebanon. Because of their status, many struggle to access education. Given these circumstances, BSF partnered with the NGO INTERSOS to provide refugees with informal educational opportunities through our Ideas Box. In 2016, we deployed an Ideas Box in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, which has welcomed the most Syrian refugees per capita in the world.

Context

About 250,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children who do not attend school. This is particularly prevalent among youth between the ages of 12 and 18, which renders them susceptible to several risks, including child labor and underage marriage.

Our approach

Since the summer of 2016, BSF has worked with INTERSOS and the UNHCR to bring the Ideas Box to a community center that serves refugees in El Marj, a town located in the Bekaa valley. Initially, we sought to gauge how often refugees might visit, get a better sense of their expectations for the program, and identify which topics would be most interesting or relevant to their lives. Based on this information, we learned that participants were primarily interested in four activities: creating stories through writing and drawing, learning cosmetology skills through online videos, participating in photography trainings, and attending digital literacy workshops to learn how to use tools such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

Beyond expanding access to information, education and cultural resources to refugees in El Marj, we aimed to help children and adults gain the skills needed to overcome trauma, become more independent, and develop their own resilience. By encouraging them to go beyond the activities organized by facilitators, they found new and creative ways to use the resources within the Ideas Box. To date, over 1,000 have benefitted from our Ideas Box program in El Marj.

In 2017, we extended our Ideas Box program to the informal refugee settlements where INTERSOS also operates. As in the community centers, we encouraged refugees to take initiative by adapting Ideas Box activities to suit their needs. Later this year, we plan to deploy a second Ideas Box in Lebanon.

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