First days of working in the refugee camp

  1. Do not promise anything
  2. Do not give them anything
  3. Do not show too much affection

These are the three rules LOYAC gave us for working with children in the refugee camp. During six weeks, me (Jazz) and five other volunteers are working in a camp in the Beqaa Valley with LOYAC twice a week, in which we will organize a diverse set of activities for the children. Every week we try to educate them on a different topic; e.g. environment, mindfulness or health. I have already noticed this is quite a challenge: , the children range from aggressive to extremely sweet, and some of the children lack access to basic facilities and knowledge.

I really understand the third rule of LOYAC, but it also leaves me with mixed feelings. The children are in need of affection and actively seeking for it, however we should not give it to them since we are leaving after six weeks. I understand that it is for their own sake, but if a 8-year old hugs you and holds you very tight when the day ends, you want to do the same, right?

Contrary to what I expected, the refugee camps in the Beqaa Valley are completely unorganized. I expected a large camp, but in reality the tents are scattered all over the valley. Farmers rent out their land for approximately 30 dollars a month per tent. Based on my experiences so far, the Lebanese try to help out the Syrians wherever they can. But then again, these are probably also the only people I meet.

The camp we are working in consists of 175 people of which 120 are children. Some of these children don’t have parents and live there with their grandparents. Then there is also a tent reserved for children without family. This one honestly breaks your heart. I therefore believe that seeing the camps, and especially the children in the first place, might be a good experience for many people in the Netherlands in order to develop a more nuanced opinion about the refugee crisis.

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