And there are school places for only a quarter of the Syrian children now in the country. Many are expected to work to support their families, either picking fruit or selling on the side of the street.
And added onto this is the trauma of being away from home and from loved ones.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a holiday from all that, however short? Caritas Lebanon arranged just that for 200 children. It organised two summer camps in July and August in Monastery of The Lady of Joy in Kfardebian- Kesrwan for 150 Syrian children, and integrated another 50 Syrian children into camps for Lebanese children.
The children range from 6 to 12 years old. This time the children came from Christian communities. It was the first time such a camps had been set up for Syrian refugees, and Caritas Lebanon want to make sure everything ran smoothly.
Children have a full day of activities that includes painting, handicrafts, nature walks, games, drama and songs, treasure hunts and reading. Youth volunteers lead the camps. It’s all specially tailored to bring in ideas around personal responsibility and that children have rights too.
Caritas Lebanon’s Freddy Bejjani helps organise the camps. He said, “The children come to us in a bad way. They can be aggressive and hostile towards each other. They’re very defensive. In the camps, children aren’t given boundaries.
“Day by day, those barriers break down. They learn to trust each other and work together. They can build up a relationship. We also teach them about how to control their own environment, keep it and themselves clean for example.”
Freddy Bejjani admits the numbers are small. Only 200 children out of 400,000 Syrian children who are refugees in Lebanon.
“I feel I’m helping the children to progress. For some, just to have a bed to sleep in makes them happy. It’s a holiday from the daily life in a refugee camp,” he said. “I believe in what Mother Teresa said ‘What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.’”