World Refugee Day: Working Together to Rebuild Lives

World Refugee Day recognizes the strength, courage and tenacity of refugees all over the world who have endured some of the most challenging life experiences.

According to UNHCR, there are 26.6 million refugees worldwide (the highest ever recorded). The countries that currently host the most refugees are Turkey (3.7 million), Colombia (1.7 million), Uganda and Lebanon (both with 1.5 million in each). Most recently, we have seen 13 million refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine.
 
Refugee migration continues to be attributed to war and natural disasters which we know has devastating effects on access to basic needs like food, shelter or medicine and also their education, jobs, and livelihoods. Today we are reminded to continue to find ways to take action and work together to support millions of families and children who continue to be displaced globally.

Our Work in Lebanon

Lebanon has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, hosting 1.5 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees. Based out of the Beqaa Valley, we have set up a Mobile Education Bus and Mini-Tented School to provide access to quality education for Syrian and Palestinian refugee children living in the settlements. Our staff and educators at those sites are invested in children’s academic progress and integrate tablets and educational software in their classrooms to accelerate children’s learning in literacy and numeracy. In addition, they also deliver psychosocial support activities to strengthen children’s social and emotional development.

Over the last four years, we have worked in partnership with schools and local NGOs in Lebanon and have supported over 5,200 children to achieve incredible educational outcomes and results for children, their families, and communities. A study conducted in 2019 of three learning centers we partnered with in Lebanon demonstrated that students improve, on average, at least one learning level in literacy after their first year into our programme. Further surveys indicated that 96% of students reported a significant improvement in math and 88% in literacy.

Our Work in Ukraine

Since the war started, almost 5 million refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, half of them are children. As the crisis unfolds, we have been developing a number of initiatives that address the immediate and longer term educational needs of those children. In these first months of the war, we have been distributing education stationery packs and Ukrainian academic books in Ukraine and in neighboring countries to help disadvantaged Ukrainian children without a device or who are waiting in temporary shelters or homes to access the local education systems. Our academic materials have been translated into Ukrainian, adapted by Ukrainian educators, and covers a range of topics that include numeracy, literacy, creativity and psychosocial development.

Through the amazing partnerships we have with local NGOs, charities and children’s homes, we have been able to support 13,000 children. As the war continues, we too must continue building and developing our response and partnerships to ensure we stay attuned and informed on educational needs and plug the growing learning gap for as many children as possible. If your organization is interested in supporting our work in Ukraine, we encourage you to reach out to us via our website.

World Refugee Day is an opportunity for us not only to reflect on the difficult living conditions that millions of refugees are facing every day and the compounding effects it has on their children, families and their futures. It is also a stark reminder for us to continue to work together to ensure families and children can have quality and fulfilling lives. For the Breteau Foundation, education has been our focus and contribution towards families and their children to improve their life chances. Through our partnerships with incredible organizations and local communities, our work in Lebanon and Ukraine continues to be made possible, meaningful and impactful for the children and families we work with.
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