Volunteer Spotlight – Mira Rahm

Volunteer Spotlight Mira

Mira has been a very active and enthusiastic volunteer with ULYP, dedicating her time to the Together Let’s Code (TLC) program. She has shared with us her experiences as a volunteer, particularly when looking at how online images can affect body image and self-confidence:

“When I first joined the program, I was asking myself about the importance of these sessions in helping young girls entering the digital world. Whether the girls would be interested in discussing “body image” and “self-confidence” at this young age, and how to convince them that being healthy is more important than being perfect.

I AM WORTH IT!

Shortly after starting my first session, I was amazed by all the energy and interaction present in the classroom. We started our activities and discussions with the sole objective of turning the negative thoughts about ourselves into positive ones, turning flaws into unique traits. We concluded that being healthy by exercising and eating well is far more important than being perfect and looking like the girls in the magazines.

GIRL POWER!

The best part was sharing our dreams and respecting those dreams regardless of all the barriers imposed by the society, especially on girls. Girls are here to lift each other and boost their confidence. Sparkling eyes and heart-warming smiles when talking about dreams and giving each other positive comments were my biggest reward!”

Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education

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We are excited to announce that ULYP has recently partnered with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, for a three-year program starting September 1st. This partnership builds on our experience with the CHANGE and BRIDGE programs and makes it possible for ULYP to scale up these programs and reach out to a larger number of beneficiaries. The project has two main components. The first will support Palestinian and Syrian refugee youth with remedial English classes and prepare them for enrolment in Tertiary Education. The students will also engage in soft skills workshops, career counselling and support with applying for university. This component will be implemented in three areas around Lebanon and will build on lessons learned and best practices extracted from ULYP’s CHANGE program and our university preparatory courses.

The second component will provide scholarships and/or co-fund university education for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and certificates in Lebanon and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus for 210 students. The project will also track our students and support them throughout their university studies.

Overall, this project is going to reach over 500 refugee youth in Lebanon and help transform their educational and economic opportunities.

LIFE Returns to ULYP

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ULYP is delighted to announce that the LIFE project is back! LIFE stands for Learn, Inspire, Focus, Engage, and is funded by Taawon/Lebanon. Between September 2018 and June 2019, LIFE will support the learning of 70 children and 35 parents from the Haifa School in Beirut, Lebanon. This program is aimed towards children at risk of dropping out, changing the way they think about education and encouraging them to stay in school. This will be achieved through English language and life skills lessons.

Building on the success of SKILLS FOR LIFE, the original LIFE program recently won the ‘Ockenden International Prize for Refugee Projects’. This award was given as recognition of “innovative work that has promoted self-reliance among refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs)”. It is so exciting to have the opportunity to impact the lives of more children and parents in this way. Taking what we have learnt from previous LIFE programs, and all our other educational experiences, this cycle of LIFE will be the biggest and best yet. The children involved in the program will therefore not only improve their English, but also improve their chances of completing secondary and tertiary education.

Happy Summer

This August, the HAPPY program (Happy Alternative Program for Pre-schoolers and Youth) was in full force, working with 24 children, aged four and five. The program’s learning activities focused on English, maths, art and a lot of outdoor time. The HAPPY program approaches the children as active learners, and engages them in an interactive and immersive learning experience, using stories, songs, art, and activities to support the children’s development.

With all activities taught in English, children developed a good foundation for learning the language in the coming years. It was also an opportunity for the children and teachers to experience a more interactive and hands-on style of learning. The children showed a huge improvement in confidence levels and really enjoyed the variety of activities covered. The wonderful facilities at the campus were perfect for fun in the sun, with lots of time spent in the playground and a final day in a paddling pool! On the last day, the children also received a book bag with paints, paintbrushes, toothpaste and a toothbrush. These gifts are useful for Grade 1 and gave everyone an opportunity to practice the art skills they learnt during the program. They also help ensure that the children are maintaining their oral health; an issue that was also discussed on the ULYP campus.

In addition to all this, ULYP hosted a teacher-training day entitled ‘Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Early Childhood Development’. Sixteen teachers from HAPPY pre-schools across Lebanon attended and increased their ability to support the mental, physical and cognitive development of the children in their care. This project therefore not only improved the lives of the children attending the class, but also of the countless children that will be under the care of these teachers in the future.

A day of SAWA, a day of creativity and community

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‘What is community?’ The program started with a question.

The children arrived at noon from two elementary schools in Saida. They were full of curiosity and excitement, and soon started to run around the garden, laughing and chasing each other. The girls were shyer than the boys and seemed a little timid in this new environment. It was the first time for most of the children to come to ULYP’s campus, but it didn’t take long for them to start enjoying the big open spaces. On seeing ULYP’s volunteers and teachers , Steve, Sahar, Nour, Angela and Haneen, they excitedly shouted ‘Hello!’, ‘Marhaba!’.

Lunch was served to the children who were by now in a circle, all sitting with their friends from the same school and not talking to those who they didn’t know. Noticing this, the teachers whispered to each other: soon they will all be friends because we’ll put boys and girls from different schools into pairs! This was the first experiment of the day, but it worked well.  Children were put into groups of four around one table, and they quickly integrated and started chatting. Sahar, who teaches both our SAWA and HAPPY programs and is very experienced in child and early education, started the class with a question: ‘How do you understand the word “community”?’

After a heated discussion, the children were asked to turn their ideas into pictures. With some quiet classical music in the background, they calmed down and started to draw pictures filled with creativity and emotions. It was a moment of inspiration, as they all became immersed in deep thought and explored their imaginations. Hadi, a 13-year old Palestinian boy explained his painting to the class: it depicted a garden with different people sitting around a table. Hadi said that what he understood as “community” is a big family where people regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or religion live happily together. ‘No matter if you are Sunni, Shiite or Christian, no matter if you are from Lebanon, Syria or Palestine, we are all in a big community, so we are all brothers and sisters.’

Everyone then took turns to explain their pictures, which were decorated with hearts and flowers, and showed girls and boys living happily together. These are the symbols of love and hope, of the dreams in these young hearts. With nurturing and encouragement it is this love and hope that will lead them to pursue their dreams, to face the difficulties in their lives and to build a peaceful Lebanon and a better future.

ULYP is very grateful to the United Palestinian Appeal (UPA) whose funding has helped to make this program possible

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