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Books for Syrian Refugees

  • Radio New Zealand National Interview

      26 October 2015

    On October 11 we were interviewed on the radio! You can listen to us here:

    We forgot to say that the books were great as Lebanese schools teach a lot of their lessons either in English or French. The schools for refugees we visited all teach in English. I can't imagine having to learn maths and science etc in a foreign language!

    If you'd like to help us out with seeds, that would be awesome. We're not sure which seeds we'll send as we need to find out what will grow best in the tiny plots of land in the camps. We'll let you know.

    And keep giving generously...the camps in the Beka'a Valley really need a school after their one burnt down and they need money to build it.

    Thanks everyone!

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  • Another update from Beirut - Shatila camp

      11 October 2015

    There are about 50 camps for 3-400 people in this area.

    Spent day in Shatila today - as bad as ever but more people than 6 years ago when we were there. Horrendous conditions .. over 20,000 registered but perhaps double the number ... spent time in the school and took the books and other resources. Head of school is catholic (once a Jesuit), most are Muslim but no one thinks religion.

    Couldn't take more photos in Shatila itself as not allowed out of respect for the people living there and no government security. People very welcoming. Gave the books to the NGO; they will be used by teachers.

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  • An email update from Sophia's grandmother

      11 October 2015
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    Had amazing day in Bekka Camp, taken by friends of Yousef (from Yarmouk Camp in Damascus). Appalling conditions, unbelievable poverty. People live in tiny shacks with metal or plastic sheeting for walls. UN has name emblazoned on the plastic but that is all it does. Broken concrete serves for pathways. some people have been here for years and have left academia and fancy homes. The children are clearly malnourished but like kids everywhere they have a remarkable resilience. It's hot now with little water or food and in a few months it will be snowing.

    Enough of the tragedy, there is life in the camp. We spent some time in the bakery with Sophia and Lucy shaping flat bread with the women and watching it bubble on a big hot dome. Once cooked it was removed and filled with cheese or Za'atar (dried thyme), folded in half and slapped back on the dome with a sort of leather cushion. Sophia was a better baker than Lucy. (The bakery is an initiative set up to help women work as well as provide food for their family)

    Later we went to another part of the camp where children had some fun playing games and drawing. For most it was the only time out of the camp in a year. There were two groups who went a few kms in a big van (including us with the first group). 40 children aged 6 to 11 were squeezed into the van! For the parents there is little relief.

    There are several European groups who donate and send volunteers but mostly nothing happens. Those who reach the camps have to pay rent to local Lebanese landowners - if they can't pay they are evicted and have to live on the street. The Lebanese govt does little and support is from whatever aid can be found. Save the Children is the group that is held in highest regard.

    Tomorrow we are being picked up plus the books and going to Shatila camp. Back to Bekaa next day.

    BUT tonight we were taken out for a meal with every yummy dish known in Bekaa ... felt guilty but it was offered by those who work in camp.

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  • First lot of books on their way

      23 September 2015
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    Sophia, her grandmother Gill and Auntie Lucy left yesterday with suitcases of books, stationery and a last minute addition of band-aids, elastic bandage and other basic medical supplies. We are still taking donations as any other money will be used to purchase items the NGO need either here in NZ if they are unable to source or for giving directly to the NGO

    I have added some photos of a few of the books to the gallery, most were packed away already before. We specifically looked for books that either were needed or told stories from the area. The Usborne First 100 Words:Arabic was a great find as it has arabic script, arabic words written with Latin alphabet (English alphabet) and words translated into english. There are also books with CDs so the students can hear the pronunciation.

    There are fun things in the cases too, balloons, little toys, some hands on science experiments to measure weather.

    More photos will be posted when the books are delivered

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