Giving refugee children and families a bit of normality

“Mom and dad Ghaussaoun and Omar are proud to announce the birth of their son Riyad, born healthy and strong in a Bekaa Valley hospital at 4:09 a.m. last 25 June.”

Ghaussaoun and Omar are a young Syrian couple that fled the city of Idlib after a car bomb explosion destroyed their house. They are currently living in a tent at the bottom of the Golan Heights. Soon after they discovered Ghaussaoun was pregnant, they contacted cousins that had already escaped from Syria and were living in Lebanon.

Like so many other escapees that crowd the refugee camps in Lebanon, Ghaussaoun and Omar have always manifested their fear of asking the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for help.

Not officially holding refugee status, they were not eligible for primary maternity care, but with AVSI’s financial aid, the young family was able to afford it.

“Thanks to the AVSI social workers that visit us twice a week and help us, I’m starting to think that asking for aid may actually be a good idea,” says Ghaussaoun. “My husband works three days a week as a farmer and we used up what savings we had brought with us from Syria some weeks ago.”

There are two million refugees currently sheltered in Lebanon and Jordan, living in tents constructed out of plastic and rags. In this context AVSI, through the project we are supporting, guarantees monthly food distribution, promotes hygiene campaigns inside the camps, provides medical home visits and pays for maternity care. In addition, AVSI works hard in promoting educational, psycho-social and recreational assistance for the children, who make up almost half of the refugee population.

Marco Perini, AVSI Country Representative in Lebanon, states that the great challenge to overcome is to guarantee that these children are able to go back to school. “We need to give these children and their families moments of normality. It is the normal things in life that we must help these people find once more. When you are a refugee, far from home and living in a tent, nothing is normal, beautiful or familiar anymore.” In this context, a recovery course, a literacy course, playing games or simply sketching on a notepad can represent a moment of hope that brings everyone closer to a structured life with school, homework, education, timetables, obligations, family, smiles and tenderness.


“The most urgent needs are food and water, but also making children play, because the eyes of refugee children cannot grow accustomed to seeing only horrible things.” – Marco Perini