News Release

Children in Lebanon Receive Backpacks and School Supplies

Collaboration between Latter-day Saint Charities and URDA enables kids to get an education

Children in need in Lebanon are better prepared for school, thanks to Latter-day Saint Charities and the Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA). Latter-day Saint Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, joined with URDA to provide backpacks and educational materials to poor children and refugees returning to classes after a long period of school closings.

Lebanon has experienced significant economic uncertainty in recent years, and these conditions have worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since October 2019, Lebanese children have received an average of 11 weeks of schooling. Over one million Syrian and Palestinian refugees live in camps or in modest housing in Lebanon, and the children often lack needed educational materials when they are given the chance to attend school.

URDA’s “Back to School” campaign seeks to support equal opportunities for all children and to reduce dropout rates. This is done by paying school fees, where needed, and by providing educational materials required by the schools. The initial stage of the campaign was to provide backpacks filled with materials to 1,500 elementary school children in northern Lebanon. The backpacks contain such items as pencil boxes, rulers, notebooks, sharpeners and erasers. 

The benefits of the campaign go beyond just the school supplies, according to Manal Maghawri, fundraising coordinator for URDA.

“Thankfully, through the Back to School Project, we were able to help and bring some happiness not only to the students, but also the parents,” Maghawri said.

Children who received the materials say that they were often teased and bullied when they attended school without the stationery and writing materials they needed. They were also embarrassed by their worn-out and torn school bags, so they are elated with the new backpacks.

Haya, a child in the Kolaj School for Syrian refugees, said, “I love this bag! I am very happy. This is the best gift I have gotten this year.”

Wa’ed, from Al Inmaa Syrian refugee camp, said excitedly, “This is the best day of my life! Now I will carry a backpack like my friends instead of a plastic bag.”

Teachers in the schools and camps were also pleased. Sister Danielle, a teacher from Notre Dame school, said, “Today, you are bringing happiness into the hearts of the children and the adults during times where it is hard to find happiness.”

The families of the children, such as Mounir, a Palestinian refugee who lives in Naher Al Bared camp, were also grateful.

“Projects like this are very important," Mounir said. "I haven’t been able to buy my grandkids their needs after I shut down my bakery because of the economic crisis. Now my grandkids will be more motivated and happier to go to school.”

Education is a high priority in the Middle East/Africa North Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to Area Welfare Specialist Stacey Knight.

“We are grateful to join with organizations like URDA to provide educational resources to children in need,” Knight said. “Not being able to attend school may limit opportunities for an entire generation, and we want to do everything we can to give these kids the resources they need to attend school and be successful.”

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