Promoting a healthy lifestyle together
Over the past 30 years, Lebanon has been plagued by bouts of civil war, factional violence and has experienced an influx of refugees, initially from Palestine and in more recent years from Syria. Currently, Lebanon hosts 1.8 million refugees, at least half of whom are younger than the age of 18. One in four Lebanese comes from a refugee background, which puts a lot of pressure on society. In many schools in refugee communities education is basic and classrooms are overcrowded. Children are scarred by conflict and their progress has been limited by a lack of positive outlets and not enough opportunities to move and play.
Sports brand ASICS has joined forces with Right To Play by providing children in Lebanon with a much needed outlet and will teach them the fundamentals of athletics. By setting up a three-year sports programme children from different backgrounds will be exposed to sports experiences that support their development of physical, mental, and life skills.
Mouaatasem, 10 years old, Syria
“I came to Lebanon four years ago. We had to flee Syria because of the war. I came from a city not so far from Lebanon but the situation there is very different. It is a war-torn place.
I love sports and activities. I love playing games. I always clean up the court after playing games so everyone is happy and the court looks tidy again.
Here things are better than in Syria. School is better here. In Syria I had just started grade 1 when we had to flee. I don’t even remember if we did any sports or games in school. We were mainly in our classroom. Not all my siblings go to school. My older brother has to work to help our family earn money, and my older sister helps my mother at home. They cannot go to school.
I love football. We run and we play. It’s really good for our bodies. When we play sports we are all equal. We don’t have a Syrian and a Lebanese team here. We are all one team when playing games.
Hanan, 9 years old, Syria
“I really love this programme. We are together, we play and we get to know each other. It makes me really happy.
Sports is a fun thing to do with my classmates. I wish I could do it every day. I like all the games and I love the coach. She is an inspiration.
I fled from Syria seven years ago. I was only two years old when I came here from my city, Hama.
I remember my grandparents and how happy we all were together. We always did many nice things. They loved me. Now they are still in Syria and we are here in Lebanon. We cannot see each other, so it’s really hard.”
Zeina, 12 years old, Syria
“We came from Syria in 2012. We left our house because of the war. Many people died and there was a lot of destruction. First we stayed in some other cities in Syria. Then we came to Lebanon, where the situation is better and calmer.
I was six when we left. I didn’t go to school in Syria. But, I remember the nice garden near my house. When the war began, we were scared. I was young and I didn’t understand.
Life is good here in Lebanon. We learn new things and play sports. When I am sad about something or something bothers me, sports makes me happy again. When I play, I forget about the trauma.
My dream is to become a translator. If you want to travel, you need to speak another language. Two years ago my brother went to Germany with my uncle. It was a very long journey over the sea. He is 14 and I miss him. I would love to travel there. Surely, life is better there.”
Mouaatasem, Hanan and Zeina played together with Palestinian and Lebanese children. They learned to trust and accept each other and appreciate their differences. These are crucial skills that will equip and empower them to be agents of positive change, which eventually contributes to building more peaceful communities.