A Syrian refugee mother living in Lebanon has enrolled in school, seeking independence and a bright future for her children. Ghalia, 44, fled the violence of Syria in hope of a better life.
Now a school student at elementary school, she has learnt to read and write her name. “My five children are all in school from grades one to six,” she says. “And I am in grade one, too.”
As a refugee in Lebanon, Ghalia found it difficult to function without the ability to read or write. She signed up for school, determined to gain these valuable tools and help her children with their schoolwork. “If my child asks me about her lessons, I want to be able to answer her,” she says.
Fatima, a fellow refugee and Ghalia’s adult literacy teacher, started the classes after being approached by dozens of mothers who could not read or write. Fatima studied literature in Syria before she escaped in 2012. “When I started teaching [the women], they were uncomfortable and upset, since some of them could not even hold a pen properly,” she says. Watching the women learn is extremely rewarding, she adds. “It’s such a nice feeling when you see your students improving before your eyes.”
Naisa also attends Fatima’s classes. In her mid-60s, she says the ability to understand basic literacy skills has given her autonomy and a sense of self-worth. “When I get in a taxi, I can recognise the signs so I know where they are taking me,” she says. “I can rely on myself.”