Syrian children attend school in Lebanon to escape horrors

A school run by the Lebanese aid agency Beyond Assocation is educating Syrian refugee children — and providing a brief distraction from the horrors back home.

1 in 6 Syrian children living in Lebanon as refugees attends school

Some of the about 280 students who attend a school run by the Lebanese aid agency Beyond Assocation. Only one in six Syrian children living in Lebanon as refugees attends school. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

Studying English and math a few hours every day provides Syrian girl Eman Jabbra a brief distraction from the horrors at home, thanks to a school run in Lebanon by an aid agency.

The 10-year-old is among about two million Syrians who have left the country because of war. More than 100,000 people are thought to have died since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

The school, attended by about 280 Syrian children, is run by the Lebanese agency Beyond Association and is a short drive from the Syrian border.

Eman Jabbra, 10, and her family fled to Lebanon from northern Syria two months ago to escape the civil war. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

"It was very scary to see the airplanes and helicopters. I could always hear the bombs," Emam said, taking a brief break from her studies. "Every day our town was shelled."

Eman remembers hiding with her family in the basement of their home, in a village of Raqqah province, in northern Syria. Raqqah has seen intense fighting in recent months, after rebel forces took control over most of the province.

Eman's family fled to Lebanon two months ago, during a lull in the fighting. Along with her six brothers and sisters, she lives with her parents in a temporary shelter made up of plywood and plastic. They have power, but no running water. Her mother cooks for the family using a hotplate.

She attends school every afternoon.

One of the makeshift classrooms at the school in Lebanon for children who escaped the war in Syria. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

"I am glad to be here. I am learning," says.

Eman and the other students at the school are the fortunate ones. Only one in six Syrian children living in Lebanon as refugees attends school. Syrian parents — facing a life of dire poverty — often want their children to work. Education is often not a priority.

"We are trying to convince them that it's better for them to learn and that school is for their future," says Ali Massout, the school's director. "They have the right to learn."

Eman enjoys coming to classes every day. When not studying, she and her friends play games in the dusty desert where the school is located.

An instructor teaches English to the Syrian children attending the school in Lebanon run by the aid agency. (Derek Stoffel/CBC)

But she misses home.

"School was better there because we had books and we had real classrooms."

Eman wants to become either a doctor or a nurse. She wants to help people.

She says she can't wait to go back to Syria. But the 10-year-old understands the war and chaos that have enveloped her country, and that it's too dangerous to return to Raqqah right now.