November 12, 2021

Preparing vulnerable children in uganda, Lebanon and ecuador to go back to school

Thanks to our fundraising campaign Let’s Go Back to School, children and adolescents like Rosemary, Charbel, and George got the support they needed to thrive academically 

Uganda, lebanon and ecuador

As the pandemic keeps raging around the world, it has become more and more evident that access to distance learning is uneven, with huge disparities based on income and geography. Globally, parents struggle to fill the gap, and there is a well-founded fear that the most vulnerable children will not catch up with their learning goals. At the beginning of the Summer, AVSI-USA launched the campaign “Let’s go Back to School.” The main goal was to help our partners in Uganda, Lebanon, and Ecuador prepare vulnerable children to go back to school after almost two years of online learning. To address these and other challenges created by the pandemic, AVSI and partners have planned customized responses together with families and communities. As part of our global campaign, our donors helped us reach the following results:

in uganda

At the beginning of the summer, a new lockdown was imposed on Uganda, including the closure of schools. Luigi Giussani High School teachers decided to distribute lessons and homework to their students to prevent them from falling further behind and avert three side effects caused by previous lockdowns: early pregnancy, school dropouts, and child abuse.

Rosemary's story

Rosemary Lamwaka

Luigi Giussani High School student

The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent closure of schools in Uganda were not enough to discourage Rosemary Lamwaka, 19 years old, from learning. Rosemary found strength in the Luigi Giussani High School teachers and the social workers at Meeting Point International (MPI), who printed and delivered everything she needed to study and do her homework once a week from home. Rosemary was constantly in touch with the teachers through phone calls. She also joined discussion groups with her peers to read ahead of the syllabus and share opinions on different topics on the weekends.

“My mother was very supportive. Although I’m the main caretaker because she is sick, she still exempted me from doing all chores to have time for reading. She gave me love, care, and constant encouragement, which was the rock in my life,” says Rosemary.

Rosemary has always been among the top-performing students, but now she believes she could only find more about herself thanks to Rose Busingye, MPI Director.”My discovering journey was ignited through Rose’s teachings on the human value,” says Rosemary, who was able to score high grades and now wants to make her dream of joining college come true. “I’m also thankful to my sponsors, family, teachers, and friends. This journey motivated me to study harder, as I felt accompanied in all ways.”

in lebanon

The COVID-19 pandemic had a toll on the already weak education system in Marjayoun, South Lebanon. Local children and Syrian refugees did not have access to online education, causing them to give up on their studies and look for work. AVSI Lebanon has offered catch-up courses, counseling, and recreational activities while supporting parents and schools with training sessions and regular follow-ups.

Charbel's story

Charbel Toubia

Charbel Toubia’s early school years were challenging. Suffering from ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Charbel had various behavioral problems. The stories would be slightly different, but the outcome was always the same: the school principals would scold him aggressively, and his parents would be forced to move him to another school. But the constant change would not help this 10-year-old boy from Klayaa, in southern Lebanon, settle down. This inability to manage his aggressive behavior weighed on the family, as it caused marital conflicts and significant fatigue for his mother, who felt helpless.
Charbel’s story changed thanks to AVSI’s intervention. After continuous family visits, the social worker and psychologist referred Charbel to the speech therapist and psychomotor therapist.

A psychiatrist has followed Charbel and his mother, and he is now playing sports and participating in counseling. At the same time, his mother is receiving guidance on parenting.

Charbel’s behavior has changed dramatically since his parents met AVSI. He was gradually able to learn more and make new friends, which allowed him to gain self-esteem. His mother is now much calmer and has the necessary tools to respond to Charbel’s behavior and needs. The closure of schools could have been disastrous for Charbel and his mother if AVSI wasn’t there to stay close to them and find ways to reach them close to home.

in ecuador

To tackle the high number of coronavirus infections, Ecuador’s government proposed a hybrid system, in which some students will be in-person while others will continue remotely. Many schools, however, don’t have safety measures in place to welcome all students, and many children are returning to school remotely. To help children catch up academically while providing psychosocial support, Sembrar organized a Summer Camp. The goal was to prepare and motivate children and young people to resume studying. 

george's story

George Pungancho

Fundación Sembrar beneficiary

George, 12 years old, is the youngest of 11 siblings. He began to attend activities at Fundación Sembrar during the COVID-19 pandemic out of necessity: there was only one computer at home, so he had to go to the center to connect to his class. Later, he joined Sembrar’s youth program, got homework help, and was invited to attend the summer camp.

“The part I enjoyed the most was playing sports. The summer camp ‘Life is Beautiful’ in July and August helped me be more responsible,” remembers George. “To come, have fun and be with my friends, I had to get up early and take care of my house chores like tidying up my room and helping my mom clean the yard.”

The experience significantly impacted George, who explains, “Sembrar is like my other home, and everybody there is like family.”