Amina’s story – accessing education as a refugee
20 January, 2022
At nine years old, Amina* has been through more than anyone should experience in a lifetime.
A missile strike on Amina’s hometown forced her family to flee Syria, fearing for their lives. Amina’s family fled to Lebanon with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the hope of a better life.
Amina’s new home was meant to be a safe place after the atrocities in Syria, an opportunity for her family to start anew. But in 2020, an explosion in Beirut left 300,000 people homeless, 7,000 injured and 218 dead. Millions more were traumatised by the explosion and the chaos that followed.
Amina remembers the “big bang” and then seeing the sky fill with red smoke. Glass shattered and stones fell from roofs as she sheltered in her mother’s arms. Over a year later and any loud noise takes her straight back to that trauma.
Compounding their struggles is financial difficulty. Amina’s father earns about $40 a month – nowhere near enough to afford even the basics. And when her father contracted COVID last year, the family lost a month’s income. They were at breaking point.
Not only did these events steal Amina’s sense of security, but they also threatened her education. Now at the age of nine, Amina is three years behind her peers and is currently enrolled in Grade 1.
Before meeting ADRA, Amina hadn’t been to school for two years!
Amina’s family was approached by ADRA’s program in Lebanon as it was evident they needed support. Amina, her two older sisters and her younger brother were enrolled in ADRA’s education program, and the rest of the family received financial aid in addition to winter clothing, blankets, and food assistance.
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But Amina suffered from attention deficit, diminished linguistic abilities, and a speech disorder. She was unable to keep up with her classmates and Amina’s mother worried these barriers would set Amina back even more.
Amina’s learning difficulties were another blow in her life of suffering – she’s a refugee, living in poverty, and as tensions rise in Beirut, the victim of intensifying racism.
But the ADRA team on the ground conducted assessments so they, and her teachers, could better meet Amina’s psychological and educational needs. ADRA is working closely with Amina to improve her skills and help her overcome the barriers that keep her from her education.
Now, Amina can concentrate more on tasks at hand, her writing has improved drastically, and her communication skills are improving. She has more friends now and she can communicate better with others. Despite the big progress made in Amina’s case, she still needs careful follow-up on a psychological and educational level.
Excitingly, Amina is now looking forward to the future. Inspired by her favourite ADRA teacher, Amina wishes to be a teacher when she grows up so she can help students just like her!
During disasters vulnerable people suffer first and suffer the most. But with your help, we can be there and ready to help. In disasters just like the Beirut explosion, ADRA is ready to respond immediately and also helps with long term recovery thanks to your support. To ensure ADRA is always ready and always there, please donate today at adra.org.au/donate
*name has been changed to protect child’s privacy