“We all have the power to make a difference, by just keeping things simple”.
That is what one of our volunteers said motivated her to embark on a new journey to Lebanon.
Since 2014, SB OverSeas has worked in Lebanon to provide education to the many refugee children out of school and facilitate access to the local public schooling system. The aim is to prevent a “lost generation”. Initially, through the support of local staff, mostly refugees themselves, and later on in 2016, with young volunteers from all over the world, the organisation has reached out to over 1,400 children to create a better tomorrow.
For almost two years now, groups of young, inspired and open-minded people have spent anything between two and eight months in our catch-up schools in either Beirut and Saida assisiting local staff who are delivering English, Math and Science lessons. They are moved by their desire to make the world a better place by connecting communities and overcoming false stereotypes and prejudices. Regardless of any fear of the unknown or of what is beyond our small reality, for some of our volunteers travelling to Middle East is “their first big trip” to finally realise how similar we are in our differences.
But, what does volunteering at SB OverSeas really mean?. For many of our volunteers, it is not only a mere act of giving, rather it is a learning experience where everyone gets something in return, affecting lives and at times, forging a new career path. More than just teaching, volunteering at SB OverSeas favours a social and cultural exchange, an encounter which becomes a (self) discovery. Through our aid and emergency distribution programme, volunteers get to know our beneficiaries and understand the harsh conditions many refugee families live in. What surprises most is that despite all the difficulties and challenges life has put them through, they have not lost hope. “Seeing the smile and the enthusiasm on the faces of our students makes it all worth it”, is the comment of another volunteer who feels encouraged to give more.
Our volunteering programme offers the chance to grow on both a personal and professional level. Volunteers will join us to teach children and adults, assist women and young girls to gain life-skills and achieve an element of financial independence within our empowerment programmes as well as partake in several other activities from arts & crafts to sporting activities and field trips. Moreover, we provide them with the possibility to immerse in an intensive Arabic course to better communicate and interact with the local community. Last but not least, our volunteers become our voices by supporting our main cause and raising awareness on some of the main global issues such as the rising practice of child marriage. Through articles and testimonies from the ground, volunteers shed a light on this well-known practice as a result of conflict, lack of education and poverty.
To conclude with the words of Martin Luther King: “Life’ most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
Written by Marianna Barberio, volunteer coordinator in our HQ Brussels.