Lebanese NGO Assists Syrian Refugees

By Paul Cochrane

Twenty-five per cent of Lebanon's population are refugees, and many live on less than US$4 a day. Refugees in Lebanon often facing discrimination, but some Lebanese groups are helping refugees learn life skills regardless of their background.

The Amel Association has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for helping vulnerable youth in Lebanon. Dr Kamel Mohanna, founder of The Amel Association, says no one deserves to go without a chance of education.

"Because we didn't choose our family, our nationality, our religion - we need this,” he said. "Amel plays the role of catalyst in Lebanon, in the Arab world, as a model of change."

Ahmad Dirki teaches English at The Amel Association in Haret Hreik, Beirut, and said he is very proud of his student’s accomplishments. One of his former refugee students, who moved to Germany with his family with the help of the UN, went on to pursue writing studies at university there and has written two published short stories.

“Now he is one of the best students at the university,” Dirki said. “He keeps saying that the English he got here, plus the support, gave him the hope to continue.”

With 500,000 children seeking refuge in Lebanon, work like Ahmad's and The Amel Association’s is crucial for peacebuilding.

"Education is a priority,” said Lucas Wintrebert, Amel Education Coordinator. “Because all these children - in the age to go to school - are really the future of Syria, and the future of the region, because these children will be in charge of re-building their country, of re-building an identity in the Middle East, and they will be the ones that will create the world, and the Middle East, of tomorrow."