Hay el Gharbé is just a few kilometres from the lively centre of Beirut. Its small makeshift houses are crammed on top of one another. People living there make their way through dusty alleyways covered by a web of electrical cables. In this deprived neighbourhood, and others nearby like the Chatila camp for Palestinian refugees, everyone is thrown together – local Lebanese, displaced Syrians, Palestinian refugees and migrant workers.
Lebanon: education and care in a neighbourhood shared by Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians
The inhabitants of Hay el Gharbé in southern Beirut live in a very precarious situation. Since 2012, a number of Syrian refugees have joined their neighbourhood. The SDC supports the Lebanese NGO Tahaddi, which has made a real difference in people’s lives here – such as with its education centre, helping a large number of children to (re)discover schooling and escape their daily hardships.
Primary health care
- Over 750 children and youth have access to an academic education program
- Over 30 children take part in Early Interventions Programs
- Over 1O youth per year benefit from career guidance, attend vocational training, and are supported by a social worker throughout their training and beyond
- Over 150 children benefit from a program which fosters self-confidence, protection awareness and social skills
- Over the three-year project, min. 2'300 at- risk patients will have access to multi-disciplinary primary care services
- 500 families have access to psycho- social activities in the form of social services, counselling and group support
- TEC, THC staff and 2 additional recruited staff will be better trained for better management of Tahaddi
- Foreign private sector South/East
With the Syria crisis entering its 51 year, the situation in Lebanon in h general has become more and more critical. Rents are high, jobs are scarce and the tensions between Lebanese and Syrians are becoming more palpable.
Through steady additional administrative requirements since 2014 and the closure of the borders in early 2015, the level of protection for Syrian refugees (and in consequence also other refugees) is shrinking. In terms of education and health, there are barriers to enrolment for children (tuition, transportation costs, language, discrimination) as well as a general lack of adequate access and provision of health services. In marginalized areas such as shantytowns , the access for all inhabitants to basic services is even more difficult.
The shantytown of Hay Al-Gharbeh and Sabra Al Horch are marked by overcrowding , inadequate makeshift housing, poor hygiene, limited work opportunities and frequent social unrest and violence. Illiteracy and unemployment rates are very high. The common income generation schemes are mainly day to day manual labour and begging including forms of child labour.
Residents are mostly marginalized people such as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Dom (ethnic minority group, gypsy tribe), foreign manual labourers, undocumented persons, persons from mixed ethnic backgrounds and refugees such as Syrians, Palestinians and other refugees.
Government safety nets do not cover this neighbourhood, not even basic public health measures such as vaccinations. The Lebanese Government (Gal) do not invest in infrastructural areas which are not legal. However the work of Tahaddi is tolerated by the Gal.
Improved access to education, health and psycho-social services in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Beirut.
Direct beneficiaries: 750 children (53% girls, 47% boys) at the Tahaddi Education Centre (TEC) and min. 2'300 new patients as well as registered and active patients at the Tahaddi Health Centre (THC); Tahaddi (organisational development)
Indirect beneficiaries: Some 10,000 inhabitants of Hay Al-Gharbeh and Sabra Al Horch, including women, children, disabled and elderly
Outcome 1: Improved access to education for out of school, at-risk children and youth. Education programs may include informal and formal education as well as vocational training.
Outcome 2: Improved wellbeing for families through access to effective medical and psycho-social support services.
Outcome 3: Improved management of the organization through developing efficient procedures, HR policies and strategic organizational plans.
Results from previous phases:
SDC supported Tahaddi in 2010 under a small grants scheme and from 2012-2015 under phase 1 of this project. Resulting from these previous engagements, 1,733 families and 153 at-risk families improved their access to primary health care and psycho-social assistance. 600 vulnerable families received preventive and primary health services and 208 boys and 143 girls improved their access to education.
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
International or foreign NGO
Government of Monaco, Friends of Tahaddi, Syrian Refugee Assistance, Syrian Medical aid
|Coordination with other projects and actors||
The proposed project builds on previous experience with Tahaddi and complements Switzerland's support to Palestine and Syrian refugees as well as other vulnerable people.
Where geographically feasible, coordination is sought with other partners working in adjacent areas, although none of them are working in the two shantytowns.
Synergies exist with TdH Lausanne, which trained Tahaddi in Case Management and conducted a study on the Dom community, which contributed to the development of the current project. SDC and Tahaddi work closely with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) via the School Rehabilitation- project for better conditions for education at schools.
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 1'270'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 1'146'345 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF 357'610 Budget inclusive project partner CHF 720'343|
|Project phases||Phase 2 01.08.2016 - 31.03.2021 (Current phase)|
This is where Tahaddi has set itself up. Since 2008, this Lebanese NGO has helped thousands of families facing wide-ranging problems: insecurity, exclusion from school, trauma, lack of care, etc. And the arrival of Syrian refugees since 2011 has only increased the number of vulnerable people.
"At the beginning, we used to take care of injured children because their desperate mothers couldn't even afford to go to a chemists" explains Catherine Mourtada, a co-founder of the NGO. "But we soon realised that people’s needs were far greater. So we decided to set up a medical-social centre and an education centre."
A safe haven in the slums
It was in 2010 that a fully-fledged education centre started to take shape. Today, Tahaddi's schooling centre hosts more than 350 pupils in its different classes: 4 preschool, 11 primary and a hundred or so children enrolled in a programme that helps with homework. These children, who have either had no schooling or have been forced to drop out of school, can now be educated in line with the objectives of the standard national curriculum. The teaching is also tailored to their particular social circumstances. The classes cover Arabic, English, maths, science, history, geography and IT. There are also daily classes in music, arts and crafts, theatre and P.E. Tahaddi is an inclusive centre and also has 7 special needs children.
The main premise behind the centre is to bring normality to the lives of the children. The school’s roof serves as a playground and is the only such place in the entire neighbourhood.
Since 2012, the Tahaddi education centre has also welcomed Syrian refugee children. Some are traumatised by their experiences in Syria, to such an extent that they are no longer able to speak normally. The sight of a helicopter flying above their heads is enough to frighten them. Like the other children with difficulties, these refugee children receive support from speech and rehabilitation therapists and psychologists.
There is a sewing atelier for a dozen women, some of whom have children at the school. The money they make from selling their products is shared among all the women. This is part of Tahaddi's larger-scale programme covering the socio-educational needs of the families, including literacy and vocational skills development for adults.
Health services on hand
The Tahaddi medical-social centre is also at the heart of the neighbourhood. It was set up in 2008 and carries out over 600 free consultations every month. Medicines and lab tests are subsidised or provided at cost. Most of the cases involve hazardous work-related injuries. This is because many of the adults living in Hay el Gharbé are employed in sectors with difficult working conditions. Burns, electric shocks, rat bites and respiratory diseases are also very common. The number of children with gastroenteritis is also high. The virus can spread easily in such environments where few households have fridges or running water.
For Dr Dany Daham, the squalor and permanent stress levels experienced by people living in Hay el Gharbé are real challenges to be addressed. Since 2008, the doctor from Beirut goes to see patients in the neighbourhood every day. "Sometimes I see severe cases of lung disease and recommend that the patient stops smoking. But how can they free themselves from this addiction in such a stressful environment? I used to smoke and know first-hand how hard it is to quit, even in my privileged situation."
The medical-social centre is a blessing for Syrian refugees because they can obtain healthcare without needing official documents. Lebanon has stopped registering Syrian refugees entering its territory since 2015. This means they are de facto illegal, which complicates their access to public services such as healthcare.
The SDC's support for Tahaddi is part of Switzerland's commitment to protecting particularly vulnerable people in Lebanon, regardless of their origin, race or political opinion. This support is even more crucial in a country hosting more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees and around 174,000 Palestinian refugees.
The SDC’s contribution to Tahaddi is augmented by financial support from the Principality of Liechtenstein. This co-funding mechanism is part of a partnership between both countries in the field of humanitarian assistance.
Tahaddi's work relies on the commitment of its dedicated personnel. Some of them come from the neighbourhood itself, such as Nadia* (18 years). She went to the Tahaddi education centre before getting a job as a preschool teaching assistant. This is her story.
* Not her real name.