2023-02-03 GENERAL HOUSE

FMSI’s efforts to help Syrian and Iraqi refugee children

The Marist Foundation for International Solidarity, established by the Institute of the Marist in 2007, works in the world for the rights of children and adolescents to ensure them better living conditions. For years, FMSI has been present in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Lebanon. In Syria, FMSI is committed with the Blu Marists to aid all those individuals who, despite the war, have remained in their country. Among the Syrian population, many have decided to seek shelter in neighbouring Lebanon, where FMSI supports the Fratelli Project to provide them with access to basic needs, ensuring adequate education, safe shelter and, more importantly, creating a bridge between refugees and Lebanese communities.

FMSI participated in a competition organized by the Istituto Ganassini. The competition was reserved for the most virtuous projects in the field of refugee assistance. The Fratelli Project, presented by FMSI, won a prize worth 5.000 Euros which will be entirely dedicated to the implementation of the Project on the ground.

The refugees in Middle East

The war in Syria, which began in 2011, has generated a social, political, economic and humanitarian crisis in the Middle East that involves, in addition to Syria, countries that have taken in refugees fleeing the conflict. One and a half million refugees have settled in Lebanon, with catastrophic consequences for the country, which has a very high number of refugees relative to the national population. The massive arrival of refugees has destabilized Lebanon’s already fragile social services-schools, hospitals, water and electricity supply, garbage and sewage collection-quickly reaching the limits of their capacity. Thousands of Syrian families live in overcrowded housing in Lebanon, and about one-third of families live in semi-abandoned buildings where housing conditions are quite precarious. The unemployment rate is high and economic income is almost zero. This situation of uncertainty is exacerbated by the inability to obtain documents that allow legal residence in the country.

Fratelli Project

Fleeing conflict and persecution, Syrian and Iraqi refugee children in Lebanon are often isolated due to cultural and linguistic diversity and are educationally disadvantaged. For all the aforementioned reasons, in 2015, the two congregations of Marist Brothers and Lasallian Brothers devised the “Fratelli Project,” through which the beneficiary children have the opportunity to grow up in stable and diverse communities where pluralism is welcomed and peace is promoted by intentionally welcoming Christians and Muslims, girls and boys, Shiites and Sunnis, Syrians, Iraqis and Lebanese, and providing them with quality holistic education. Children and youth can build their personalities, gain confidence and learn to communicate and live with others through school activities such as art, sports and team games. These activities are complemented by activities related to the themes of peace, children’s rights and protection, art workshops, and field trips. Fratelli promotes inclusion and social, emotional and moral development through its various programmes for over a thousand refugees. These programmes guarantee all children equal opportunities for a better future through socialisation and training activities. Specifically, programmes are offered on child education and development, basic literacy and numeracy, youth empowerment, nutritional support and meeting basic needs. Quality pre-primary education is the foundation of a child’s journey: every stage of subsequent education is based on its success. Indeed, children enrolled in at least one year of pre-primary education are more likely to develop the critical skills needed to succeed in school and less likely to drop out. No less important, as adults, they contribute to peaceful societies and prosperous economies.

For this reason, the Fratelli Project is fully dedicated to marginalised groups that would otherwise have no opportunity to access these services, provided in a familiar and welcoming environment. The project offers vulnerable children socio-educational support to provide them with a basic level of education that guarantees them access to the Lebanese public education system. The preparatory preparation for school that Fratelli provides allows the children to enter the Lebanese public system, supporting and accompanying them in overcoming their difficulties, including language, mathematics and science. Thanks to the presence of the psychologist, the displaced children and their families are helped to overcome the trauma of violence and exile, as well as their current state of uncertainty in Lebanon.

From an approach based on children’s rights, considering primary and urgent needs, the children grow up in a safe and supportive environment where they can express themselves freely, have psychosocial support, learn and develop skills for their future autonomy. The Fratelli Project therefore represents a long-term investment in a better future for hundreds of refugees and vulnerable children.


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