DSPR Lebanon Spring Newsletter-May 2015
News from the Joint Christian Committee (the Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches–DSPR of the MECC)
“I love you, Mom!” from Sabra Center
This was the theme of the day on Thursday, March 19th, when the kindergarten and nursery school students in Sabra put on performances to celebrate Mother’s Day. The crowd of spectators – the mothers & grandmothers of the 140 students – was ecstatic with the appearance of the little children, dressed in their JCC uniforms, prepared to sing for the special occasion.
Samar, the teacher of JCC’s Literacy Class & the Master of Ceremonies, welcomed the honored mothers & introduced JCC Sabra’s Director, Aida, who lifted up the importance of the role of women in society. She has, said Aida, many functions: a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a mother. Yet she is also an individual, self-empowered to improve herself through education. It was inspiring to note that JCC Sabra is a center led completely by women, all of them committed to improving and nurturing their local community.
Each class of the nursery and kindergarten, their ages 2-4 years, prepared songs in Arabic and English celebrating their mothers. Two brave children even presented memorized poems in front of the gathered crowd! At each performance, the pride of parents and teachers was palpable as mothers came forward to photograph and film their prodigies.
The day was a resounding success. Children built their self-confidence through the public performances public, mothers took a break from their usual morning duties, and the community came together to celebrate a role which often goes without thanks or glory.
It can be easy to go about the year without taking a break for special events. Teachers often have a thick curriculum to cover while also instilling values in their students. But it is clear that the values prioritized by the teachers & administration of JCC’s Sabra Center are not just compassion and fairness, but also joy and gratitude.
The students at JCC’s Saida Center are all recent arrivals to Lebanon.
They have crossed into Lebanon with the hopes that their stay here will be temporary, that they will soon be able to return to al-Sham, a name for Syria which conjures images of its beauty and legacy.
Despite their uprooted nature, these young students have found new ways of transferring the foundations they had in Syria to Saida, Lebanon: by joining the Syrian Refugee Education Program offered by JCC.
When asked why JCC is pursuing this project, the answer is straight-forward: without education, an entire generation of Syrians will be lost. The consequences of the war will plague the country & the region for generations. Education is the way out, the way to mitigate the catastrophe, the way to grasp the hands of these young Syrians, affirming their importance and worth as the generation who will repair their country. Read more.
The temperate climate in the south of Lebanon makes it ideal for food production.
While the rest of us were bracing for the cold rains of winter, the agricultural program at JCC’s Farm in Tyre was gearing up for another busy season of planting and harvesting organic fruits, vegetables, and honey. The efforts to introduce biodynamic practices are paving the way for an improved environmental infrastructure. Graduates of the farm’s agricultural training program find jobs nearby and some have even established their own ventures.
The farm’s biodiversity – which now includes mulberry, olive, lemon, orange, dandelion, several varieties of tomato, green onion, cilantro, parsley, basil, cabbage, avocado, fava bean, cucumber, swiss chard, 2 varieties of eggplant – ensures that the students learn about the needs of a variety of plants. By the end of the program, they have thorough knowledge of how each plant lives, how much sunlight and water it needs and in what kind of soil it thrives.
For several years, the JCC Farm has been growing and thriving in its corner of Lebanon. We are excited to share that the produce of the farm is now making its way to Beirut! Seasonal, organic produce can be purchased (each Tuesday, 10:30-12) at the German Congregation of Beirut. If you live nearby, come for some fresh vegetables and support the growth of the farm!
Building self-confidence among youth is a priority of the JCC Dbayeh team.
Throughout the year, the team works toward this goal by strengthening community ties and elevating the unique gifts of each child. It was with these aims that 35 of the children at JCC Dbayeh participated in the 2015 March Marathon
Running a full marathon would be out of the question for these first-time marathoners, so the participants in the Youth Race were divided by age and ability to run 2, 3, or 5 kilometers. Read more.