THE LEBANESE SOCIETY FOR EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Since the 1950s, LSESD has sought to empower people on the margins of Lebanese society, by providing education and welfare programmes throughout the country. From this they have developed both the network and skills to formulate a meaningful response to the Syrian refugee crisis. And that is precisely what they are now doing.
For fifty years, education has been at the heart of LSESD's work. With up to 80% of Syrian refugee children not in school, this focus has intensified as the refugee crisis has grown. They have enrolled hundreds of Syrian children in LSESD's own schools, they have funded scholarships for Syrian children in Lebanon's public schools, and they have established a school for Syrian Children in the Bekaa Valley, which is teaching the Syrian curriculum and employing Syrian teachers.
By mustering their skills and mobilising their networks, LSESD are currently providing assistance to thousands of Syrian families: not only to those who have sought refuge in Lebanon, but also to many who remain in Syria and Iraq. With food aid, medical assistance, blankets, mattresses and stoves - as well as education and vocational training - they are providing what many others cannot. While they work largely through churches, the vast majority of their beneficiaries are Muslim, as their mandate is to equip the local church to respond to needs in their communities, regardless of the background of their beneficiaries.
About 11 million Syrians have now been displaced from their homes, over 1.5 million of whom have fled to Lebanon, a small country of only 4 million people. That's the equivalent of 13 million refugees arriving in the UK. As no Syrian refugee camps have been established inside Lebanon, these refugees are dispersed throughout the country. The extreme hardship that many are experiencing, and the burden that this crisis places on Lebanese society and public services, are both compounding one another. Access to adequate accommodation, clean water, sanitation, education and work are some of the main problems.