Amid long-lasting chaos and displacement, children like Zahra*, a 14-year-old Syrian refugee girl, finds solace and hope through education and artistic expression. Zahra’s story is a testament to the transformative power of a safe learning environment and the unwavering support of dedicated tutors at JRS Telyani School in Bar Elias area. Despite the hardships she has faced, Zahra has discovered her passion for art and strives to make a difference through her creative endeavors.
Seeking Peace and Protection
Zahra’s journey began at a tender age, as her family fled war-torn Syria in search of safety and tranquility; “When it was time to go to bed, we clung to one another and feared that we wouldn’t wake up the next morning since all we could hear were military aircraft, bombs, and rockets,” she said.
With a strong aversion to violence and a longing for peace, she was forced to leave behind her cherished doll, beloved home in Hamat, and her lovely garden, to embark on a new journey in Lebanon.
The constant fear of an uncertain tomorrows plagued her thoughts, but amidst the turmoil, she found solace in the proximity of JRS Telyani School, which would soon become her sanctuary.
A Safe Haven for Learning
Zahra eagerly embraced her education at JRS Telyani School, starting from kindergarten and continuing through grade 6. Her life underwent a complete transformation as she delved into a world of knowledge and new experiences.
The school provided her with a safe environment where she could learn Arabic, English, mathematics, science, while engaging in creative activities. The summer camp, organized by the school, became a source of joy, offering her a respite from the challenges of her daily life.
She said: “I realized that hope does not end at this school; JRS Lebanon instils in me the belief that my dreams are greater than my anxieties and that I must remain positive, work hard, and make it happen.”
Zahra found herself surrounded by caring tutors and supportive friends at her school. The tutors, with their warmth and dedication, became not only instructors but also mentors who instilled confidence in their students.
She noted: “My school provides us with a safe environment where we can have wonderful times. There is always assistance available to encourage students to persevere.”
Whenever Zahra faced disappointment or felt overwhelmed, the encouragement she received from her tutors and friends helped her persevere. The school became a place where dreams could flourish, fears could be conquered, and hope could thrive.
Art as an Outlet for Expression
Zahra discovered her innate talent for art, using it as a means of escape and self-expression. Through sketches and paintings, she found solace and freedom from the constraints of her circumstances.
Her artwork often portrayed the people who inspired her the most, including her tutors and her uncle. “I began drawing to escape the world I was born into. I started painting to calm my soul. I’ve never stopped painting and continue to draw the people I care about on a daily basis,” Zahra clarified.
The appreciation and encouragement she received from her school’s administration further motivated her to pursue her artistic endeavors, with her principal affirming her ability to create her own unique signature.
Iman’s Arabic tutor at Telyani School, Houssam, played a pivotal role in nurturing her self-worth and confidence. Recognizing her exceptional linguistic abilities, he highlighted her fluency and grace when speaking Arabic.
He described an incident that occurred once: “Zahra asked for a picture with me after a school picnic.” However, an astonishing revelation occurred on the second day. Houssam was surprised to learn that he was one of Zahra’s drawing book topics. Every aspect, from his face to his eyes, beard, and general appearance, was meticulously preserved. “Such a gesture demonstrated Zahra’s talent and her deep gratitude to her tutors,” he remarked.
The Power of Education
Zahra’s story highlights the profound impact of education and art in her life. JRS Telyani School not only provided her with knowledge but also nurtured her self-worth and confidence.
Through her art, Zahra found a voice that transcended the limitations imposed by her circumstances. “I hope one day I can return to Syria and showcase my journey through a grand exhibition, showing my resilience and determination,” she said.
Her journey as a Syrian refugee girl in Lebanon has been shaped by the unwavering support of JRS Telyani School and its dedicated tutors. Through education and artistic expression, she has overcome adversity and discovered her true potential.
Zahra’s story serves as a reminder of the transformative power of education, the importance of safe learning environments, and the significance of fostering hope and confidence in every child.
Her aspirations and artistic talent inspire us to believe in the potential of all children and to create a world where every child has the opportunity to flourish.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.
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