Three children who hail from different backgrounds have something precious in common.
Jad*, Tania* and George* are having their morning snack at the same table.
“We drink milk in the morning because it makes us happy all day,’’ Tania says.
The trio have struck up a friendship often seen at Save the Children’s Early Childhood Care and Development classes in Mount Lebanon.
George was born and raised in Lebanon, Jad descends from Palestinian origin while Tania escaped the war in Syria with her family.
But none of that matters inside the classroom.
Jad, 4, says, “We sing together, write and play Chicken and Horse. They sit next to me.’’
The three children were included in Save the Children’s programmes to prepare them for the first school year, but the positive impact extends beyond education success.
In a country blighted with decades of conflict and poverty, education resurfaces as a tool of peacebuilding between and within Lebanese and refugee communities.
Save the Children’s Education Assistant Rabih Salame says, “We welcome all children regardless of backgrounds or nationalities. They all take part in the same activities and receive the same education. This reflects positively on their communities because it gives them that sense of belonging.’’
The three friends will go on to have different ambitions, but, firstly, they have to be equipped to do that. George was turned away when his mother wanted to enrol him in nursery because of his late speech progress.
George says, “I love coming here. When I go home, I will tell Mom how we coloured a big paper.’’
*Names changed for protection purposes.
Who are Jad, Tania and George?
The three children met for the first time at Save the Children’s Early Childhood Care and Development classes in Mount Lebanon. They live in the same neighbourhood and spend their mornings together. The Education programme, supported by the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), welcome children from 3-6 years old in recreational activities that equip them with the skills they need to enrol in formal education.