Education Key to Escaping
Poverty in Lebanon

The family of a sponsored girl living in poverty in Lebanon do all that they can to make sure she gets the best education so she can have hope for a life free from the hardships of poverty.

Fatima wants to be an artist when she grows up.

Fatima*, 8, is a sponsored girl whose family lives in Lebanon. She loves to draw and wants to be an artist when she grows up.

Her family fled neighboring war-torn Syria when she was just a baby.

Because of the size of their family – nine children total – when they first arrived in Lebanon, they couldn’t find a landlord willing to rent a house to them.

But they finally were able to rent a plot of land, and the landowner allowed them to build a makeshift home with scraps of wood and tarps.

Their rent, which includes water and electricity, costs the equivalent of $135 per month, and they have additional costs as well, such as tuition fees, transportation, food, and phone and internet bills.

The makeshift home where Fatima’s family lives.

The home often floods in winter and has no insulation. Fatima’s father, Adham, doesn’t make enough to pay for all their expenses but says the tuition help Fatima receives from her sponsorship helps the family.

Fatima’s dad, Adham*, works double shifts as a teaching supervisor and teaches English.

Fatima’s mother stays at home to take care of the kids and house.

Fatima’s older sisters work and help the family a little, but they still come up short each month and find themselves trying to move their bills and due dates around.

Worsening Poverty Hardest on Kids

According to UNICEF, nearly 75% of families in Lebanon are experiencing poverty due to widespread unemployment and staggering inflation. With inadequate income levels, families aren’t able to provide for their kids’ basic needs.

Fatima studies so she can get good grades at a private school.

UNICEF also reports that more than 700,000 kids in Lebanon are at risk of never returning to a classroom due to rising poverty, while thousands have dropped out of school to engage in child labor or get married.

The quality of public education in Lebanon – even before the economic crisis – is poor, especially for kids living in poverty. Children attending public schools don’t learn as much as those in private schools.

Lebanese public schools suffer from a severe shortage of qualified teachers who can teach math, science, and English and French languages, according to USAID. Also, many public schools have infrastructure problems, such as broken windows and leaking roofs, the aid agency says.

The influx of Syrian refugees (more than 1 million) also places a huge burden on Lebanese public schools, straining already thin resources.

Sponsorship Provides Glimmer of Hope

Education is very important to Fatima’s family. It is the only chance kids like Fatima have to break the generational cycle of poverty.

Sponsorship funds help Fatima attend a private school, which offers a better education that public schools.

The director of the highly regarded private school Fatima attends has a heart for helping refugees.

He holds special classes for them and even helps some of the students with their tuition so they can continue attending.

Sponsored children like Fatima who get letters from their sponsors benefit greatly.

They feel encouraged that someone far away cares about them. The letters also expand their world view, plus they practice their penmanship when writing back.

Adham is grateful for Fatima’s sponsors and their support, which greatly improve her ability to make something better of herself and rise out of poverty.

“Thank you, because you are doing something special,” he says. “This sponsorship should continue in the school for the kids because the letters they are receiving and the words they receive in the letters are very, very special to them. It’s important for them to hear that someone from another country cares for them.”

OneChild currently helps more than 295 children in Lebanon, including Fatima, attend private schools.

*Names changed to protect identities.

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