The BF-Dar Al-Hanan Orphanage Partnership
Mohamad Abdul Wahab, Volunteer Content Writer and Teacher at Partner School, Dar Al Hanan Orphanage
When economic and political turbulence arise, disadvantaged communities are among the first to get exposed to the most damage and experience compounding barriers that limit their access to the most basic needs. Before COVID, more than 258 million (UNESCO 2019) children were out of school. At the peak of the pandemic, this number rose to 1.6 billion. For countries like Lebanon with existing economic and political disturbance, the education sector was one of the hardest hit.
Out of our firm belief and responsibility toward disadvantaged children, the Breteau Foundation has continued to work in Lebanon where there are a high proportion of children who cannot access quality education. To support us with our work, the partnership with Dar Al-Hanan Orphanage has been remarkable, to say the least.
The orphanage is located in West Bekaa District, in one of Lebanon’s eight governorates, built over an area of 66,000 square meters. The orphanage was established in 1989 with around 160 students of those who has been most disadvantaged for missing one or both of their parents. While the social-economic conditions in the country were worsening, the orphanage was progressing and developing its abilities aided by benevolent citizens and organisations. Soon after, Dar Al-Hanan Orphanage increased its capacity to be able to embrace around 650 students annually in 2003, equipped with sleeping and residential rooms, dining lounge and kitchen, halls, soccer and basketball playgrounds, a computer room, dental clinic and other facilities. The teachers leave the orphanage at 2.30pm and female caregivers are in charge 24/7 to make sure the children receive sufficient care and learning. The orphanage also has a selection of vegetables and fruits planted in vacant lots to provide healthy meals and to utilise available resources. NGO’s, donations and voluntarism are essential contributors that enable the continuity of this orphanage to run at all levels – it is like a mini society!
The alignment of Dar Al-Hanan Orphanage and the principles of the Breteau Foundation and their shared responsibilities towards disadvantaged children contributes to creating, enhancing and promoting a strong partnership. it started with the Breteau Foundation’s Mobile School Bus which would visit the orphanage 2 days/week and provide children with tablets to enhance their learning in Literacy and Language, Numeracy and Mathematics, Logic and Critical Thinking, Imagination and Creativity, Curiosity about The World, and many other Arabic and English enriched apps. Teachers are also trained in virtual communication, lesson planning and online teaching. The training sessions were completed inside the orphanage classes, on the BF Bus, and virtually during the pandemic. The BF tablets, training programmes and Mobile School Bus have had the most prominent role in continuing the learning process for the orphanage despite the pandemic-lockdown and disruptions the country has been suffering lately.
While it was not possible during the lockdown to virtually reach some of Dar Al-Hana Orphanage students due to multiple complications from the lack of internet services and devices, the Foundation responded with printing academic booklets to develop the children’s numeracy and literacy skills. Everyone, including the teaching staff, the administration, the students and their parents have admired and appreciated this step.
While the education sector in Lebanon is under immense pressure, the Breteau Foundation finds itself more determined to provide support. Investing in more partnerships, aiding public schools in Lebanon and playing a key role in the next stages of learning for disadvantaged students are priorities the Foundation is looking forward to pursuing in the New Year ahead.