Children’s Learning Centre
The historically important building in central Baalbeck, which now houses the Children’s Learning Centre, was erected in the mid 19th century and during the Ottoman Empire acted as the governance for the town of Baalbeck and the North Eastern Beqaa Valley. It later served as a school run by the ministry of education but before being abandoned and left in disarray.
In 2015 Al Madad Foundation undertook to restore the building to its former glory in order to launch the multi-faceted Children Learning Centre, providing a much needed transitional facility whereby children’s skills are developed and deepened in order for them to maximise on their potential and capabilities.
Specially trained teachers run multiple sessions a day at the centre comprising of 14 classrooms, educating children between the ages of 4 -14 years in Literacy, Mathematics and Science, psychosocial awareness and creative activity workshops.
Children enter into a three month program, which will enable a smoother transition back into formal education when a place becomes available. Each child between the ages of 6 and 14 that enrolls with us is entitled to transport to and from the Learning Centre, full time subscription to the program (3 hours x 5 days per week) for 3 months, lessons in basic Literacy, Mathematics and Science, and access to facilities such as computer room and on-site library.
Pre-school age children are enrolled for a complete academic year at a time, preparing them to enter the world of formal education in the same way as any pre-school or nursery.
Their mothers are encouraged to attend specially constructed sessions at the Mother-and-Child centre which is a vital element of the development aid that we are offering. A key feature of the Mother-and-Child program is that we are promoting continued early years education outside the walls of the Centre and into the home. Parents are the children’s strongest role models and we encourage them to nurture this love of learning throughout their cognitive development.
Al Madad Foundation is overseeing the hiring of teachers, working with graduate training programs to select potential teachers. The training takes a holistic approach to education and caters to each individual age group’s need, covering all eventualities. Teacher-training occurs on-site at the Children’s Learning Centre during the two days that the children are not in attendance.
Infirmary and Healthcare Clinics
The site is also home to a healthcare clinic where children can be treated for the usual scrapes, grazes and accidents.
Many of the children attending education sessions at the Centre join us from temporary settlements or live in tight conditions. Via the healthcare clinics we are also able to provide treatment for scabies, skin diseases and lice, that so many of the children have, which if left untreated, can progress beyond superficial skin infection to septicemia. This is extremely dangerous and difficult to treat once it reaches an advanced stage.
When a family is displaced or forced to flee their country, it has a particularly devastating impact on the children who will find themselves lacking the sense of safety and security they need. The youngest are confused and scared by their experiences and the oldest are forced to grow up fast. As such, it is increasingly important to provide psychosocial support to children who may have internalised these difficulties and who may be suffering heavily as a result.
The psychosocial sessions also include child protection awareness against abuse and domestic violence. These are provided by qualified professionals both at the Learning Centre and by extension in the child’s home environment to maximise their effectiveness.