Kezia M’Clelland, Viva’s Children in Emergencies Specialist, has just arrived in Lebanon to spend another three weeks supporting local partners on the ground, equipping them with knowledge and skills to keep Syrian refugee children safe.
We’ve put together a diary of her key dates with the hope that you can use it to pray for her throughout her trip.
Monday 5th September
In the morning Kezia will be working with the NGO Embrace the Middle East, providing them with child protection support for one of their projects working with children with learning disabilities.
The project works with schools and families to identify children with learning disabilities and helps the schools to integrate them and cater for their needs. This could involve providing one-to-one support to individual children or running therapy sessions, such as speech therapy.
Typical support Kezia provides for NGOs includes training them in:
• Understanding God’s heart for children
• Children’s rights
• Identifying and responding to child abuse
She also helps them to think through their current child protection practice and how they can further improve this in their organisation.
In the afternoon, Kezia will visit a Palestinian refugee camp, just outside Beirut, where another Embrace partner has many projects working with families. Here she will carry out child protection risk assessments to see how effective their current practice is and how it can be improved. This could lead to a future visit to host training sessions, like the one she will do in the morning.
Tuesday 6th September
Kezia is visiting one of LSESD’s newer church education projects just outside of Beirut. (LSESD is a Lebanese NGO which works with a network of church partners and organisations in Syria and Lebanon.)
Education for refugee children in Lebanon is currently a huge issue, with more than half being out of school, leading many churches to setting up informal classrooms to provide for their needs. This school has been running for around six months and has two classes of 50 Syrian refugee children.
Kezia will be doing evaluation activities with the children to find out their experiences of the new school and what further support they need.
Wednesday 7th September
This day will involve meeting with Tahaddi, an organisation partnering with LSESD, with a medical centre and education centre for Lebanese and Syrian children and families in a very poor area of Beirut.
Kezia worked with them on a previous visit to develop a child protection policy. This time she will be meeting them to follow up on how their new policy is going and to see if they need any further support.
Friday 9th September
Kezia will be developing a child protection policy and providing safeguarding support and training for a learning centre set up especially for deaf children. The learning centre has an integrated preschool for children with and without hearing impairments.
Alongside this, they work in early intervention, which involves working with the whole family of a deaf child, teaching them how to best care for their child. In Lebanon, deaf children are usually forced into vocational training and not encouraged to study academically. In response to this, this organisation has started up a high school especially for deaf children so they can access education at a higher level.
Wednesday 14th September
There will be Child Protection training session for three churches that are partnering with LSESD to provide informal education projects for Syrian refugee children.
Friday 16th September
Kezia will visit a school in the Bekaa Valley which provides education for 300 children. Here she will run evaluation activities with the children, like she did on Tuesday 6th September.
Saturday 17th September
Since the onset of the Syria crisis, one church in Beirut now has four services on a Sunday in order to host for the needs of the arriving refugees – there are services and projects especially for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
On Saturday, Kezia will run child protection training sessions with this church in partnership with LSESD. Here’s a short video about the churches’ response to refugees.
Monday 19th – Wednesday 21st September
Over these three days, Kezia will be running a retreat and training for LSESD’s Child Friendly Space (CFS) teams based in Syria.
Child friendly spaces are safe places where children can play and learn, and receive psychosocial support from well-trained caregivers. More than just a place to play, CFS should act as places where children with further needs for specialised support or in need of protection can be referred to services that can help them. At these spaces, the specific needs of children are also identified and support provided.
Over the last year, two new CFS teams have formed and these volunteers and staff have not been trained before. This means that the retreat Kezia is running needs to cover a wide variety of topics such as what a CFS involves and sharing their learning with one another as well as running training sessions on topics they want to know more about. This is likely to cover managing difficult behaviour and including children with disabilities.
You can read more about one of the Child Friendly Spaces here and there is a photo of the team below.
Saturday 24th September
Kezia will be working with LSESD’s Education Learning Network and helping host a training day.
This network is for any education project for refugee children which are run by churches. Many of these projects don’t have official expertise and so LSESD hosts training days based on International Standards for Education in Emergencies and helping the projects to apply them to the work they do.
Saturday’s training session is going to focus on including all children, especially those with disabilities. This involves asking questions such as which children currently do not access their programmes, why, and how can these barriers be removed.
Network members take turns to host the training days with this session being hosted in Riyak in the Bekaa valley.
You can read about the last workshop, which foscued on psychosocial support, and some of the projects here. There’s some photos of it below too!
Kezia will be returning to the UK on Tuesday 27th September. Thank you so much for praying for her and her work. We look forward to updating you on how it goes.