Teacher Stories: Hisham and Aya - Beqaa Valley, Lebanon
This story was collected as part of Teachers in Crisis Contexts (TiCC) Event Series to ensure that the voices and experiences of teachers working in crisis and displacement permeate all aspects of the event. For more stories, click here.
Challenges and Opportunities of Displaced Syrian Teachers in Lebanon
Names: Hisham and Aya
Location: Beqaa Valley, Lebanon
Today in the hills of the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, Hisham and Aya wake up to a new day. A married couple, who have kids preparing themselves for a new day at school. But Hisham and Aya’s jobs as teachers is challenging. They are Syrian refugees.
Hisham teaches in a school a bit far away in the village, and Aya teaches in the refugee camp where they live. On her way to school, she goes through the busy camp to reach her classroom which is a tent. Meanwhile, Hisham leaves the camp and on the road, the van has to avoid many security checkpoints risking being late to school, and requesting to see his papers which Hisham doesn’t have. Finally, Hisham arrives to his school, a building dedicated to teaching refugees.
The class where Aya teaches is a big tent with make-shift tables and chairs. Hisham and Aya teach in classes with students who are of varying ages. Hisham and Aya, like 88% of refugee teachers, deal with children who suffer from depression and trauma as a result of all the hardships they faced over the years. And it is natural that their conditions can lead them to act out more than other students, and in a more aggressive way, or even to leave school completely and join 240,000 Syrian refugee children who don’t go to school out of 520,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.
Teaching in the camps, as you can imagine, is difficult. In summer, it’s hot and humid. In winter, it’s cold, rainy and snowy. Hisham’s class is allocated by NGOs. Yet it lacks the classroom essentials that both students and teachers need to provide a better quality of education.
In addition to teaching, Aya and Hisham have other responsibilities. Hisham works in construction after school because their salaries are not enough for a living not even in the camps. Aya, like 85% of refugee teachers, has a bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, Aya stays in the camp to help families in need and to maintain the camp facilities. Aya and Hisham carry many responsibilities while suffering from personal turmoil caused by memories of war and displacement and difficult conditions of living.
This isn’t just Hisham and Aya’s story. It’s the story of thousands of Syrian refugee teachers that teach Syrian refugee students and face the same difficulties… or worse.
97% of teachers enjoy their profession and 95% who want to continue teaching. Hisham and Aya, like other teachers, are trying to give a better future for their children. They are doing everything possible to create change to better their life conditions, and the lives of future generations.
The views expressed in this blog are the author's own.