One hundred tablets were distributed to school-aged children in Beirut, Lebanon to aid students in continuing their education and to alleviate some of their parents’ financial burden during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August 2020, an explosion in the Port of Beirut, Lebanon led to 70,000 damaged homes and 300,000 people experiencing homelessness. This happened in the midst of a global pandemic and a country-wide economic crisis where over 30% of the Lebanese population was already experiencing financial uncertainty due to joblessness. Like many other places in the world, schools were reinventing how to manage education while remaining socially distant. This required students to have access to technology, which for many, was an impossibility as the economic and environmental situation grew dire.
THE PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTION
Due to the destruction the blast caused and the ongoing nature of COVID-19, education for school-aged children felt impossible to manage. Online learning was the solution for schooling within Lebanon, but without the necessary technology, the educational success of the students drastically decreased. Many students were forced to use a parent’s mobile device and WhatsApp to communicate with the school. Sadly, many others abandoned school altogether.
Our partners in Lebanon saw an opportunity to bless these children and their families with the appropriate technology to return to their education. While it may have seemed like a small gesture, the implications were far-reaching. These children were able to resume their normal learning while parents returned to their jobs in order to financially provide for their families.
Our partners purchased 100 tablets and distributed them to children in the most devastated areas of Beirut: St. Michael, Al Marfa, Jisr, and Karantina. Following the blast, the team spent most of their days helping rebuild those areas of the city. Due to their faithful service in this part of Beirut, they built relationships with multiple families and distributed tablets on an “as needed” basis.
Providing tablets for students in Beirut not only increased access to education by gifting them with the technology needed to fully engage in school, but it also improved their social and emotional health.
Ahmed is a 5th-grade student living in the St. Michael district of Beirut. When the explosion occurred, the house that he lived in with his mother, father, and two older sisters was destroyed. The windows were blown out, the walls were cracked, and many of their possessions were destroyed by the force of the blast, shattered glass, and debris. The destruction left them homeless for many weeks while their home was being repaired. Having spent most of their savings on repairs and with school starting online a couple of weeks later due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were not able to purchase the necessary equipment for Ahmed to succeed at school. He tried his best to engage with classmates, teachers, and the curriculum using his father’s phone and WhatsApp, but slowly began to disengage, spending most of the day playing or watching YouTube videos instead.
When our partners met Ahmed’s parents, they expressed their grief over their home, the pandemic, and how these circumstances contributed to their children’s educational setbacks. Ahmed’s parents were ecstatic when they heard their son was chosen to receive a tablet. After receiving the tablet, he was able to engage full-time in school as opposed to only a couple of hours per week previously. His parents also recognized that he was happier and more motivated as he engaged with his friends and teachers.
- 100 tablets were distributed to children who had been out of school for almost a year.