By Nesrin Al Hasan, Principal
Truth be told, we are used to emergencies. I am the principal of a school in one of the largest Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon. The camp was set up just after 1948 during the Arab-Israeli war. Three generations of families have lived here – people who have known only this camp as their home. After the Syrian war broke out, even more Palestinians moved in after having been forced to flee Syria.
Currently, 45% of Palestine refugees in Lebanon live in camps, in small, overcrowded houses of usually one or two concrete rooms. In some camp sectors, the alleys between shelters are so small that sunlight cannot be seen, and the coffins of the dead cannot pass. There were armed clashes a few years ago, so military checkpoints have been erected at every entrance. All of us, whether we have fled wars or lived in the camp all our lives, are accustomed to existing in a state of emergency, preoccupied with our safety and that of our families.
When COVID-19 hit, it was a different kind of threat, an unseen enemy. Despite this, since we have always been on constant alert, we felt prepared. The school has closed a number of times due to clashes and other emergencies, so we already had a system in place that would allow children to study from home. This is the system on which we fell back when the school was forced to close in February 2020 in order to contain the spread of the pandemic.Continue reading