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Creating a future for Syrian children

In 2018, the Saïd and Asfari Foundations, alongside other generous supporters, set out together to ensure that Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon have access to education and opportunities that will help them thrive.

The Building a Better Tomorrow programme provides basic literacy and numeracy skills to children who have fled war in neighbouring Syria with their families. Many of these children are adolescent girls and/or working or street connected.

To ensure we’re having the biggest impact, the IRC constantly evaluates the situation facing the community we work with so we can respond effectively. When COVID-19 started spreading to Lebanon in March, the IRC quickly adapted our activities to continue to provide services to children and young people. We are currently delivering literacy and numeracy sessions remotely, as well as mental health support, with priority given to high risk cases. We are also coordinating with banks and money transfer agencies to ensure clients continue to receive payments, and when necessary we can still deliver cash in hand. For the most vulnerable families we are distributing hygiene and food kits.

If you would like to hear more about Building a Better Tomorrow, please reach out to Alaina Patterson: [email protected].

Our impact

To date, the IRC has helped thousands of refugee children and their families through the Building a Better Tomorrow programme.


We've helped thousands of children and their families through the Building A Better Tomorrow programme, here are three of their stories.

Maha’s story

Maha and her teacher at the centre where Maha receives help with her literary and maths.

Photo: IRC/Elias El Bream

9-year-old Maha was age four when her family fled Syria and arrived in Bekka camp in Lebanon. A year after they arrived, she was diagnosed with rheumatism and became paralysed from the waist down. She needed a wheelchair and the family were unable to pay for her transport costs to get her to school. Maha became isolated in her tent away from friends and school.

I like school a lot, we learn Arabic, English, and Mathematics and I can give you an example: three plus three equals six.

The IRC helped Maha enroll in the basic literacy and numeracy programme. With a cash assistance grant, Maha’s family have been able to purchase a wheelchair and cover the transportation fees to the centre, enabling her to access education for the first time in her life.

Maha now hopes to become a doctor so she can help treat other children like her.

Alaa’s story

When Alaa was six-years-old her parents noticed she wasn’t hearing properly. They’d been living in Lebanon for four years at the time, having escaped war with their daughter. It was not the first time they’d been concerned about her health, Alaa was diagnosed with a hole in her heart when she was a baby.

She said: ‘I can hear! Dad, mum, I can hear!’

They took her to a health centre, where a specialist referred her for a hearing test and hearing aid device.

The IRC was able to support Alaa and her family by covering the cost of the hearing test along with the hearing aid device, and also referring Alaa to a service provider to follow up on her heart condition.

When Alaa got her hearing-aid fitted had a huge smile.  “She said: ‘I can hear! Dad, mum, I can hear!’ She can now understand what we say to her, she can play again with her friends at school, and her studies will improve,” expressed Khaled, her father, with happiness.

Maram's story

Maram speaks to IRC staff who helped her get back on her feet after fleeing Syria. Photo: IRC/Elias El Bream

After fleeing Syria, Maram and her family lost everything and were forced to live on the streets for six months. With the help of the Building a Better Tomorrow's cash assistance programme, Maram is able to afford a safe home for her family and can now send her children to school. 

She's one of the many families that have been helped to recover and rebuild their family's life after escaping war in neighbouring Syria.