The first words of Israa

Date 30.09.2020

Zahra is a young mother from Syria. She left her home country in 2013 when she was 21 years old and sought​ refuge in Lebanon. Here she met Rami, they got merried and now they live with their four children in Sidon, the third-largest city in Lebanon located in the South Governorate.

Two years ago, Zhara discovered that her youngest daughter Israa (now 4 years old) sustains a speaking impairment which identified her as a student with special needs. She got the chance to know the “Back to the Future program” from their surrounding community and AVSI’s community liaison staff. In December 2019 Israa started attending the Back to the Future center at the Al Moasat Institute.

She participated to speech and occupational therapy sessions* and to Community Based Early Childhood Education activity (CB-ECE) with with her sister Khadija (5 years old) until the Lebanese government declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus spread, end of February 2020.

Since May 2020 the project have adopted a remote distant learning program in collaboration with Seenaryo organization ‘’I Learn From Home’’; where caregivers are reached routinely with interactive educational lessons through the different WhatsApp groups, in order to support and help provide education for their children.

The two siblings started attending distant classes since May, in addition to one to one remote educational support by an AVSI inclusion officer. The girls have shown remarkable improvements through remote learning, and they are regularly applying the workbook exercises; sometimes without the mothers’ help.

When we asked Zahra what was the change that she noticed she replied: Before I found out about your program my daughters used to spend most of their time doing nothing but watching TV. After they started coming to the Back to the Future center their lives changed, they became motivated and interested, it gave them the opportunity of meeting a lot of friends. Currently in this distance learning, their progress is noticeable: Israa started to pronounce few letters which were difficult to pronounce before; on the other hand Khadija was very shy and would barely participate nor speak to her classmates and the teacher. With the remote learning Khadija is showing a lot of interest, enthusiasm and character”.

About Back to the Future

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 Middle East, War Child Holland in Lebanon and Terre des Hommes Italy in Lebanon.

*About speech and occupational therapy sessions: they are activities with:

  • Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.
  • Speech and Language Therapists: work with people of all ages, from babies to adults. They treat communication and swallowing problems