Life as widower and a single father in a refugee camp during COVID-19 emergency

Date 30.07.2020

Life hasn’t been the same since Nader’s wife passed away a few years ago. For Nader, living without his wife in the Beddawi camp, close to the Lebanese city Tripoli is the toughest challenge he has ever faced, by his own admission: “It’s hard, I can tell you that; especially when raising two young boys. When you are at that age, you need your mother” he explains.

Nader’s two children, Abdalraheem and Abdulrahman, attend the “I Learn From Home” program, provided by Seenaryo Organization within Back to the Future project, which allows caregivers of three to six year-olds to implement play-based learning at home. Nader, who does not have a fixed job but rather works as an on-demand construction worker, dropped out of school at grade 11 to support his family, and never completed his education.

Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, and due to the closure of all educational centers at the Beddawi camp where he shares his small house with a friend, he has had to stop working altogether to look after his boys. He has never really been involved in their learning, but as the lockdown came into effect and he started spending more time at home, he began tutoring his kids and helping them complete their lessons. Something which he never thought he would do, but which he enjoyed immensely.

Back to the Future is a project funded by the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (MADAD Fund) which promotes enrollment and improves retention in formal education, for over 16,955 refugee and vulnerable children from local communities. It also enhances the learning environment by upgrading school buildings. The project supports formal and non-formal activities for pre-school and school-aged children. The project is implemented all over Lebanon over two years (2019-2021) by a consortium of 3 NGOs involving AVSI, War Child Holland and Terre des Hommes Italy.

He came to realize that the program was actually helping him improve his communication with his children, as all three of them were enjoying each other and spending much-needed quality time together. So he decided to plan for extra lessons with his boys.

“We had so much fun together, I thought to myself, I want more!” he says.

He reached out to the center coordinator for support and managed to plan two to three extra lessons a week. He is now a full time caregiver and dedicates almost his entire day to educate them. He encourages all fathers to follow in his footsteps and do the same.

“It has been a very difficult journey to be honest, but extremely rewarding. Now I know that I am capable of looking after my children and providing them with the best education they need” concludes Nader.