by Ayman Knaifati
Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
The resilience of this woman is unbelievable. The courage she has, gives hope to all her neighbors. That day I started my first session for positive parenting and child protection with the caregivers, and as I entered her two-room apartment in that uninhabitable building; I saw her seated on her knees, surrounded by five children, tutoring them with such discipline and tidiness. I asked her if she does that often, and she said that she’s the only one in the building who is literate, so she helps the kids with their daily homework. My first material was an activity about the caregiver’s responsibilities towards the child. Fluently, she started citing the responsibilities as her daily chores. Our lady of hope is a mother of four, three of whom were enrolled in school till the crises happened.
My first Psychosocial session was with ten mothers who were interested in the child protection program; their living conditions were an obvious added struggle to the many layered difficulties they face living in Lebanon.
The building was far short of proper sanitation, sewage systems, doors, yet our lady of hope greeted us with sincere kindness into the space she had created; a well-maintained corner, with dozens of kids she tutors regularly.
When asked about her background, she tells me she had graduated high school in Syria, before the crisis forced her and her family to move to Lebanon in 2013.
Shortly after, her husband had left to Syria in 2015, and hasn’t returned or been heard from since.
Our lady of hope has been a single parent since, and in the face of adversity has chosen not to crumble in despair. Instead, she chose to educate kids, creating a well-woven community in the process, and making ends meet for her family financially.
It is in these encounters, that social workers are reminded of the importance of providing the necessary support to help people whom, in their personal efforts, constantly try to better their conditions and the lives of people around them. I’m just glad I was part of this support.