It’s never too late to learn

Syrian refugee mothers attend school to gain independence and help their children succeed


Ghalia is an elementary school student in Lebanon, where she and her family have lived since fleeing the violence and persecution ripping apart Syria, their home country.

She’s learning how to read, hold a pencil and write her name — and she takes pride in each achievement.

Ghalia is also a 44-year-old mother. “My five children are all in school from grades one to six,” she says. “And I am in grade one, too.”

In Syria, Ghalia could function without knowing how to read and write because people gave directions using local landmarks and important news was shared by word of mouth. When she became a refugee in Lebanon, her lack of an education became a challenge every day. She yearned to feel independent and have the tools to rebuild her life. She also wanted to help her daughters and sons with their schoolwork. “If my child asks me about her lessons, I want to be able to answer her,” she explains.

"My five children are all in school from grades one to six.
And I am in grade one, too."

Ghalia and other mothers attend basic adult literacy class in Fnaydek, their new community in northern Lebanon. Their instructor is Fatima, a fellow refugee, who studied literature in Syria before escaping with her family in 2012. Fatima started the program after many mothers expressed embarrassment at not being able to help their children.

“It’s such a nice feeling when you see your students improving before your eyes,” says Fatima. “When I started teaching them, they were uncomfortable and upset, since some of them could not even hold a pen properly.”

"It’s such a nice feeling when you see your students improving before your eyes."

Thanks to donor support, enrollment in the program is free and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, provides books and other classroom materials. What’s priceless is the self-esteem that each woman gains, which is key to thriving in their adopted country. Naisa, a student in her mid-60s who lives with her son, his wife and their six children, recently recalled: “When I get in a taxi, I can recognize the signs so I know where they are taking me. I can rely on myself.”

As Syrian refugees continue to struggle after six years of war, they rely on support for more than food, water and other basic necessities. Boys and girls must have access to education and parents need the resources to help their families adjust to their new lives. Thanks to the generosity of USA for UNHCR donors, the UN Refugee Agency will strive to meet the immediate and long-term needs of displaced children, women and men living all over the world.

Here’s how you can help …

Refugees like Ghalia need the skills and confidence to help their children succeed in school and feel secure in their new country. You can help more hardworking mothers like her — and people all over the world who’ve been forced to flee their homes — by joining USA for UNHCR’s monthly donor program. Make your first gift today.


Sep 11 2017

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