THE BEIRUT CRISIS: HELPING CHILDREN COPE
The recent explosion in Beirut has devastated homes and buildings across the city, destroyed much of the city's food reserves, and left medicines in short supply. Lebanon was already reeling from multiple crises, including economic collapse, civil unrest, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
This explosion has exhausted their last reserves, and the path to recovery is unclear.
We have worked in Lebanon for over a decade to uplift children using the power of play. Our work has focused on some of the most marginalized and vulnerable children in Lebanon, including impoverished Lebanese families and Palestinian refugees living in informal settlements. We know that the first priority has to be supporting children so that they recover from the intense emotions of grief and loss that the explosion has caused.
A rapid mental health response is crucial for preventing trauma, keeping children mentally strong, and helping them cope with grief and loss from the explosion. Children are trying to recover from the traumatic effects of the explosion on them, their families, their friends, and their neighbours, but they can't do it alone.
EVEN BEFORE THE EXPLOSION, OVER 50% OF LEBANESE CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS SUFFERED FROM ANXIETY, AND 13% SUFFERED FROM DEPRESSION.
We have been using highly effective play-based approaches with Syrian refugees and other traumatized children in Lebanon since 2013 to help them cope with the shock of violence and displacement.
The unexpected devastation of the explosion means there is now a much greater need for this support than usual, and we want your help to ensure that every child who needs it can participate.
"THIS IS THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE EXPLOSION THAT I HAVE COME HOME TO SEE MY SON ACTIVE, TALKATIVE, AND HAPPY." – FATHER OF A CHILD IN THE FIRST MENTAL HEALTH SESSION
How we are supporting children in Lebanon
Our rapid response is part of a four-pronged plan to provide immediate and holistic support for Beirut’s children so that they can recover from the social and emotional effects of the explosion. Our plan combines both immediate steps to protect children as well as a longer-term rebuilding of the social and physical infrastructure that supports children’s development in Beirut.
1) Protect children from the mental health risks of grief, displacement, and social disruption using play-based activities developed from our experience with Lebanese and Syrian refugee children. Parents and youth will also participate in these sessions to leverage the protective effects of strong familial and community connections.
2) Mobilize our extensive volunteer and community connections to strengthen social stability and solidarity during the crisis and beyond. Youth volunteers will host grassroots activities focused on helping the most vulnerable children return to normalcy.
3) Rebuild and rehabilitate classrooms and other learning spaces as rapidly as possible. The rehabilitation will transform them into inclusive, accessible spaces. We will mobilize youth from our vocational training programs in construction trades and professions and pair them with engineers and experts from local organizations to rebuild these spaces to a higher standard than the originals.
4) Provide expert support on enrollment, retention, and learning in the upcoming school year to Beirut’s school system. Along with this support, we will train teachers on teaching with play-based approaches so that the quality of education children receive is as strong as possible.
You can help us achieve this plan by making a gift today. You will empower children in Lebanon to recover today and reclaim a brighter tomorrow.