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Campaign Stories
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  Lebanon: before and after displacement, through a Syrian refugee child's eyes
  Dialogue is the Solution in Syria, not War
  Displaced by conflict in Syria, refugee helps others
  Examining the role of women from a humanitarian perspective in response to the conflict in Syria
  Families flee Syria to protect their children
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  Jesuit Refugee Service stands with Syria
  Jesuit Refugee Service Syria staff stand together in serving the displaced
  Jordan: accompaniment comes first for refugees
  Jordan: eat dust here or die in Syria
  Jordan: living in the shadow of Syria's crisis
  JRS in Iraq as winter imperils displaced families
  JRS Jordan director visits U.S. universities, parishes
  JRS urges Australia, U.S. to increase humanitarian intake
  Lebanon: families from Syria seek safety, shelter
  Lebanon: JRS offers hope through education
  Lebanon: space for refugees from Syria to learn
  Lebanon: Syrian children need more than a traditional education
  Lebanon: Syrian refugee children counting on school
  Middle East: updates from JRS
  Pope urges concrete help for refugees
  Syria: between fear of violence and the struggle to survive
  Syria: bringing families together
  Syria: daily life a struggle to survive
  Syria: amidst upheaval, JRS expands services
  Syria: enduring spirit remains despite the rubble
  Syria: five years on, time for diplomacy to deliver
  Syria: food & fuel shortages add to daily woes
  Syria: interfaith family volunteers in Aleppo
  Syria: JRS refugee center destroyed, our work continues
  Syria: let this fourth anniversary of the war be the last
  Syria: maintaining normalcy in Aleppo
  Syria: Refugees from Iraq on the sidelines of yet another conflict
  Syria: shelter and food difficult to find
  Syria: thousands more displaced by violence in Aleppo
  Syria: turning pain into their most powerful weapon
  Syria: urgent need for winter supplies
  Syria: violence in Damascus fuels hopelessness, fear
  Syria: why people flee and why they need protection
  Syrian refugees face food cuts in Jordan, Lebanon
  Water is a precious gift in Syria
  Witnessing the hope and resilience of Syrians
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A child at the Jesuit Refugee Service center in Jbeil centre sits in English class. The center serves 500 children, many of whom have been out of school two to three years (Jacquelyn Pavilon / Jesuit Refugee Service)

(Jbeil, Lebanon) October 20, 2015 — "Growing up everything was good," said Catherine Mora, a Syrian refugee and teacher at theJesuit Refugee Service center in Jbeil. "That is until the war started. It was hard to believe what was happening was real. They just shoot, not thinking people are actually walking there. When I went to teach each day, I would say goodbye to my mom; you walk out of your house never knowing if you're coming back."


Catherine describes growing up in Syria. "I was happy with my friends, my family. I used to be a girl scout for 15 years and loved camping." After graduating from the University of Aleppo, she had her dream job teaching in a private school in Syria. "I struggled not to leave Syria, but after three years of struggling, we couldn't stay anymore."


By the time that Catherine left with her family, the situation in Aleppo had deteriorated immensely. Electricity and water were scarce; mortars and bombings were a daily risk. What she misses most is being near her family, who, she said, is now scattered all over the world.


In the beginning. Catherine has been teaching at the JRS Jbeil center as an English teacher for two sessions now, or approximately one year. When she started her first session, "the children were shy, sad. They couldn't look at you in the eye out of fear, clearly a reflection on their past trauma through the war." 


"They used to fight when they played," she recalls. "It was all they knew."


The Jbeil center has approximately 500 children – 250 in the morning and 250 in the afternoon. The center serves as a holistic care center, providing children language support and other services.


"Many of the children at our center have been out of school two to three years," Catherine explains. "When they arrive to us, they are basically starting from scratch."


A change of pace. However, after just two sessions, the children have improved beyond measure. They can communicate in English. They laugh; they speak; they sing. They know how to be self-sufficient and polite, and above all they know how to take care of themselves.


The center also provides psychosocial support in addition to educational support. Part of the counseling includes group Peace Education classes, through which the children learn how to play in a non-violent way and resolve conflict amongst themselves.


"They children no longer fight when they play. Rather, they play with each other. Sometimes I see them playing 'English class' at recess, where one is imitating the student and one is imitating me as the teacher. When I see this, I feel their progress."


Each student's situation is unique, and each still lives a transient life. "You may see them today; you may not see them tomorrow. This is their story." Yet, while the children are in the centre, JRS tries to form a community in which the children have a friend network and feel comfortable. 


The aim of the Jbeil program is to provide remedial support for children so that they are able to transition children into the Lebanese public system. "When I see the children moving to government schools, I know we've put them on the right track. They have 'made it' in a sense. We need to get all the children off the waiting list."


"JRS is a happy atmosphere for these children. It is their hope. We love them; they love us; and when you see their eyes looking at you, you feel their hope. We feel responsible to be that hope for them, but what's more, they give us hope."


Jacquelyn Pavilon
JRS International Communications Officer



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