Mohammad Salem ‘Aboud, ‘Ali al-Maz‘al and Shaden Hawash al-Maz‘al, children barely 10, were displaced from Deir az-Zaur, their place of origin. Leaving behind all their possessions, they had fled the war, only to settle in the coastal city of Banias, where their families rented houses that sheltered them under tough economic conditions. As a result of these tribulations, the children were not able to register at school and were, therefore, deprived of their right to education.
Luckily, they heard from their mothers—who attend the Hear-My-Heart Programme sessions at the Beit al-Yasmin Community Center—about SSSD and the educational activities held thereat. Those activities are conducted in the framework of the Informal Education (IFE) Programme, involving children who dropped out of school through educational sessions using simple, interesting recreational methods. Information is thus conveyed in an otherwise participatory and communicative way than the conventional, lecture-based learning method. Hence, the mothers promptly registered their children in the IFE, plainly satisfied with a programme that would teach and help their children.
For two months, the children became regular visitors of the Beit al-Yasmin CC and were very happy with the information they learned. There was however a disadvantage: the CC was too far away from home at the town centre. So, to spare them the mobility discomfort, they were moved to the Ward Jouri SSSD satellite center which was opened at downtown Banias, where they resumed attending the sessions. Three months had passed: two at Beit al-Yasmin and a third at Ward Jouri, but the outcome was truly rewarding: they had learned the basics of reading and writing and arithmetic and were thus ready to return to school.
Nevertheless, the SSSD team kept working with the children, helping their parents register them in the public school, and accompanied them to the Educational Complex in Banias. The gesture was greatly appreciated by the children’s parents who warmly thanked the SSSD team. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You gave us back joy and contributed to realizing our children’s dream and ours as well: you made them get back to school, just like their peers!” said one of the mothers.
On Day 1 of the new school year the children, before going to school, came to Ward Jouri so we could see them in their brand-new school uniform. They were so excited! Later on, one of the SSSD volunteers went to the school to check on them. When she saw her, Shaden rushed toward her saying, “I’m so happy that I got back to school. I’ve already three new comrades!”