The tensions in Southern Lebanon
Since the war began on October 7th, 2023, the tensions in Lebanon are high. The clashes on the Southern Lebanon border with Israel have displaced nearly 55,000 people who mainly moved to the northern part of the Country (data as December 1). In the district of Marjayoun, where AVSI has some of its projects, including the Distance Support Program (DSP), many activities have been interrupted because of the conflict. Hence, the schools are closed, the employees of the agricultural field are not working, and the usual olive harvest is suspended. The Fadaii, the AVSI multifunctional centre inaugurated in July 2023 in Marjayoun, is closed too for security reasons, and the local staff is working remotely.
Our family had to leave the Southern Lebanon due to safety concerns. My children urged me and my husband to leave because they were afraid of the bombs and did not want to remain in the village. We are now living at my relatives' house in Kfarmecke, Bekaa, in the North of Lebanon. We feel safer here, but new challenges have arisen. The weather in Kfarmecke is cold, and we are struggling to afford fuel to stay warmLilian Tannous – mother of a child supported at distance
Online support: the launch of four art therapy sessions and the learning programs
Despite the complicated conditions, the staff of AVSI continues its work by promoting online activities for the children and the parents involved the Distance Support Program. In this way, the students who cannot attend public schools have a diversion to keep their minds occupied. In particular, the kids are receiving a few art therapy sessions and a learning catch-up program. To avoid groupings and exposure to dangers, the focal points distributed the necessary materials for the activities by going to each family, house to house. The distribution campaign included art therapy kits with colouring items such as watercolours and sketchpads, and some school materials like pencils, pens, and notebooks. Both online art therapy and catch-up learning sessions started in November and will continue until the end of 2023. The workshops are delivered on Zoom and involve 50 children for the art therapy meetings and 70 for the learning activities. During the latter, the teachers provide lessons in Arabic, English, and French and homework control.
Discovering emotions through art therapy sessions
During the art therapy sessions, the kids are organized into five groups, and each group will attend four workshops. In every session, the participants reflect on one emotion between fear, anger, sadness, and joy. The activity aims to stimulate the kids to use art to open up and reflect on their feelings.
Due to the circumstances, my children Roger and Elias spent most of their days studying and playing indoor Lego activities. We all live with fear, but the situation is especially difficult for the kids who experience this instability, marked by the sounds of bombs, with significant anxiety. Fortunately, thanks to AVSI and the online art therapy sessions, the kids have a moment during the week for self-expression and enjoymentSilvana El Dabaghi – mother of a child supported at distance
“We desire peace in Lebanon”
The action of AVSI in Southern Lebanon also continues through the psychological support group provided remotely to 63 caregivers to raise awareness on how to deal with their children and reassure them in such a particular time, and through economic assistance of 125 USD per month offered to 276 families to cover their basic needs.
“To understand the needs of the population in Marjayoun, we have reached some families of the Distance Support Program, asking what they necessitate. More than anything, families need fuel, which in Lebanon is necessary to heat the house and cook since the public electricity is limited to two hours per day, while for the rest of the time, people need to use private generators – Francesca Lazzari, Country Representative in Lebanon, explains -. The parents of the children also demanded to receive a psychological support group to understand how to deal with their children who are stressed and afraid of the bombs. Hence, we have activated the online psychological support and the recreational activities for the minors. However, the truth is that everyone lives with the feeling of risk and the concrete fear that the situation could degenerate at any moment”.
I want to convey my profound gratitude to AVSI for the exceptional support, particularly through the online support group for parents on a psychological level. This platform has proven a space to express and share experiences in the current situation, and it serves as a helpful tool to understanding and support the children, offering valuable insights and guidance during these challenging timesLilian Tannous – mother of a child supported at distance
Due to the emergency, AVSI has also launched a fundraising campaign entitled: “We desire peace in Lebanon” to enhance services for the children, in addition to recreational after-school and psycho-social activities involving therapists trained in trauma management through individual or group meetings.