Lebanese and Syrian children, who were affected by the Beirut explosion, are participating in the Psychosocial support sessions implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council to help them deal with their traumas.

Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC
Lebanon

The road to healing for Beirut's children

Six months ago, on 4 August 2020, a huge explosion devastated Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. With broken glass and debris covering the streets and thousands of homes destroyed, the blast terrified many residents. None more so than the city’s children.

Yousef Sarhan is a 10-year-old Syrian refugee living in Beirut. He and his family were at home when the explosion happened.

“My mother was sitting outside. My father was sleeping,” recalls Yousef. “Me and my brother were on the bed when we heard the explosion. We ran outside and lay down on the ground. I was terrified.”

Yousef lives nearby the centre with his mother, father and brother. They have lived in Lebanon for five years after fleeing Syria because of the war. 

Talking about the August 4th explosion at Beirut port:  “We were at home when the explosion happened. My mother was sitting outside, my father was sleeping. We were on the bed, we heard the explosion, we went outside then we lay down. I was terrified.”
“The glass all broke, and the washing machine broke too. Also the bed and the closet broke. One window in the kitchen was not broken.
We slept at home


On The NRC lesson:
The activities were, the sun and the mountain, and drawing, also we learned about the brain. The activity which I liked most is the sun and the mountain because it makes me feel happy. I had fun, yes I had fun, also I was happy 

Interview with Yousef

*Youssef how did you know about NRC?
I saw you every day, and then my mom told me that she registered me in NRC
*For how long you have been in NRC?
Two days 
*How often do you come?
Every Tuesday and Thursday
*What kind of activities  do you do in NRC center, would you please tell me?
Mountain and sun
*What does  Mountain and Sun mean? 
About the brain 

We painted, and they taught us about the brain.
*What did you learn about the brain?
When we are happy or sad 
*What do we do when we are happy?
We enjoy 
It feels sad 
*Which activity you liked most?
Sun and mountain. 
Why did you like it most?
*Because they made me happy. 
Do you enjoy when you do the mountain and the sun’s activity?
Ok
*Youssef, do you practice the mountain and the sun activity at home?
I learned it today. 
*If you learned today, so what are you going to do when you return home?
The sun and the mountain activity.
*Do you have siblings; are they older or younger than you?
A brother, he is younger than me. 
*Did you fight with him, or have you been angry from each other one day?
It never happened. 
*Do you practice at home what do you learn at the center, to help you feel more satisfy? 
Sometimes.
*Like what?
Breathing 
*Exactly, how do we breathe?
*Good, what else do you do among the activities that you have learned in the center?
Just those. 
*Youssef, how did you feel when you participated in the activities of NRC center?
I enjoyed it. 
*Why did you enjoy it?
Because they make me enjoy it. 

Interview with Social emotional support facilitator Chadi Zein:
You saw how the boy participated, he was great, he reached his limit, then he moved to another place. 
We wasted time on behavior issues during the last class.
Today it worked out because I made an intensive lesson about the content of the last lesson and the safe zone, because it was the occasion of prophet’s birthday, I had to do it intensive. 
These activities are one of the most important things that students must learn, not only in difficult times and in the occurrence of disasters and problems. This type of classes should be practice in every school around the world in order to achieve peace in the world. 
Because these activities, which they learn in these classes, allow them to discover what is happening deep inside them, and how they feel when something is happening or if they are thinking about an idea, if that idea is preferred or not, and what can I do for similar thoughts.
They are learning emotional intelligence, the feelings  and the thoughts, that’s means, what I can do when I am scared or sad or angry, should I let it control me and makes me tired and sick, or I manage it in a better way by reducing it and choose what is happening inside me.
He is like a farmer who cultivates his land, he doesn’t leave the weed in his land, but he removes them. The children respond wonderfully in this context.
First of all I ask them, I know when I ask a child how did you feel before and after the activities, from time to time and according to the design of BLB, you have to ask the child: how did you feel, did you do the exercises at home or not, and what did you feel after doing the exercises? He distinguishes where he feels.
For example, this is the scale of feelings, before coming to the center, the children don’t know what they are feeling, and a child lives a state but doesn’t think about it. 
As soon as he arrives in the center he learns how to think, if he is very happy or a little bit happy or a bit sad or very sad, or angry, then he learns that the feelings are normal things, they move like an ocean wave. 
Sometimes, some events cause stress, what I should do to be relieved, so that these events do not disturb me much. What I should do to reduce it. They learn all of this here.
It changes their lives in certain point, I know that this thing has happened in concrete terms from what they say and they tell you.
For example I have three students in one class they are brothers, once the old brother saw his other brothers fighting, he remembered that when they get angry they can do the deep breathing and use other tools, he reminded them of that but they didn’t listen to him, he went to a safe zone and relieved, then he went in the room, he saw his brothers paintings together and stopped fighting, they were communicating between each other.
That’s because all of them used the tools that they learned here, and they used them in their daily life, without need to anybody to remind them of these tools, they remember themselves so they feel more comfortable. 
Because of that, all the children must learn these type of exercises and tools, to be more satisfied and to have a valuable relationship between them and their friends, their teachers and their parents, this relationship should not be built on violence or anger etc.. But built on controlling the feelings and thoughts and to communicate through relations in a comfortable environment, which contains more dialogue.
Also it effects positively on their grades, as well as on everything they do. You asked me how do I know that. At the end of the course we speak with the parents, I ask them, did you see a progress, and they say yes we can feel a concrete progress   
The explosion in Beirut has affected all of us, as adults, in our works and activities, all of us are vulnerable to trauma. It was a trauma for everyone, it was a near-death experience, and we were almost being hurt. If it affected us like this, how did it affect children? The children are fresh dewy buds; definitely they were affected by the explosion. 
Someone thinks that a cloud is an explosion, another when he hears a loud sound, he thinks it is an explosion, and another if he sees smoke he thinks it is an explosion. It exists in their daily life and makes them worried, a part from what they saw, and some children saw very terrifying scenes. 
Sometimes the children speak about it. In the class we respect the privacy of the child, so we don’t ask the child to tell us what has happened to him. 
When we work on the events which cause stress, we mention the war and the explosion, which are among other events which happen.
There are children tell you, for example, if we do the breathing exercise or another exercise and said that it relieves us, sometimes a child come and tell you that he had pieces of glass in his leg,  or he was injured, every child spontaneously tells us, I don’t go through details with him but I continue the lesson, this thing is heard and drawn.
A child drew the explosion, I am not sure if it still here, some of them draws the explosion, everyone expresses using his style.
There are children have nightmares, other children can’t sleep, other children don’t want to go out of the house because they are afraid of an explosion.
By the way, they are the same symptoms that adults have them, everybody has the same symptoms. The explosion thundered… he is just a little child… we want to say that for all humans the explosion caused trauma for everyone.
Read caption Yousef drawing a picture – one of the techniques used at the centre. Photo: Sam Tarling/NRC

Emergency emotional support

Yousef is one of hundreds of children who are taking part in the Norwegian Refugee Council’s psychosocial support classes. The classes were set up as a response to August’s explosion and build on NRC’s better learning programme.

For children like Yousef, who live close to where to explosion took place, the impact was very real. Some children have had nightmares and been unable to sleep. Some feel stressed, and scared that another explosion might take place.

Children often struggle to process and understand these kinds of emotions in the way that adults do. Through child-friendly activities, our classes have helped the children of Beirut to understand their feelings and anxieties better.

• How long have you been working for NRC? Since September 
• How are the children responding to the activities they are learning at the center? “The children are responding beautifully. Each child takes it at their own pace and rhythm. The impact is positive and fruitful for the children. It gives them tools to cope better in conflict situations. How to deal with anger, how to deal wit fear how to deal with volatile thoughts with very efficient techniques.”

• What do the children tell you about the activities? “They get a lot of pleasure. They get a lot of joy, relaxation and wellbeing.”  

• What are the challenges you see with the children and the experience they have gone through? “Some have been slightly injured from the explosion. Others have witnessed terrorising moments. Some tell you they had shattered glass on their feet, on their faces. But we cannot generalise, these are certain cases.”

• What does the parents of the children tell you about the impact of NRC’s activities on their children? “The parents have said to me ‘what are you doing with the children, they are transformed. What are you doing with them, we want the same thing!’ They are feeling the evolution of their child.”

Transcript of video interview with Social Emotional Support Facilitator Chadi Zein:
These activities are one of the most important things that students must learn, not only in difficult times and in the occurrence of disasters and problems. This type of classes should be practice in every school around the world in order to achieve peace in the world. 
Because these activities, which they learn in these classes, allow them to discover what is happening deep inside them, and how they feel when something is happening or if they are thinking about an idea, if that idea is preferred or not, and what can I do for similar thoughts.
They are learning emotional intelligence, the feelings  and the thoughts, that’s means, what I can do when I am scared or sad or angry, should I let it control me and makes me tired and sick, or I manage it in a better way by reducing it and choose what is happening inside me.
He is like a farmer who cultivates his land, he doesn’t leave the weed in his land, but he removes them. The children respond wonderfully in this context.
First of all I ask them, I know when I ask a child how did you feel before and after the activities, from time to time and according to the design of BLB, you have to ask the child: how did you feel, did you do the exercises at home or not, and what did you feel after doing the exercises? He distinguishes where he feels.
For example, this is the scale of feelings, before coming to the center, the children don’t know what they are feeling, and a child lives a state but doesn’t think about it. 
As soon as he arrives in the center he learns how to think, if he is very happy or a little bit happy or a bit sad or very sad, or angry, then he learns that the feelings are normal things, they move like an ocean wave. 
Sometimes, some events cause stress, what I should do to be relieved, so that these events do not disturb me much. What I should do to reduce it. They learn all of this here.
It changes their lives in certain point, I know that this thing has happened in concrete terms from what they say and they tell you.
For example I have three students in one class they are brothers, once the old brother saw his other brothers fighting, he remembered that when they get angry they can do the deep breathing and use other tools, he reminded them of that but they didn’t listen to him, he went to a safe zone and relieved, then he went in the room, he saw his brothers paintings together and stopped fighting, they were communicating between each other.
That’s because all of them used the tools that they learned here, and they used them in their daily life, without need to anybody to remind them of these tools, they remember themselves so they feel more comfortable. 
Because of that, all the children must learn these type of exercises and tools, to be more satisfied and to have a valuable relationship between them and their friends, their teachers and their parents, this relationship should not be built on violence or anger etc.. But built on controlling the feelings and thoughts and to communicate through relations in a comfortable environment, which contains more dialogue.
Also it effects positively on their grades, as well as on everything they do. You asked me how do I know that. At the end of the course we speak with the parents, I ask them, did you see a progress, and they say yes we can feel a concrete progress   
The explosion in Beirut has affected all of us, as adults, in our works and activities, all of us are vulnerable to trauma. It was a trauma for everyone, it was a near-death experience, and we were almost being hurt. If it affected us like this, how did it affect children? The children are fresh dewy buds; definitely they were affected by the explosion. 
Someone thinks that a cloud is an explosion, another when he hears a loud sound, he thinks it is an explosion, and another if he sees smoke he thinks it is an explosion. It exists in their daily life and makes them worried, a part from what they saw, and some children saw very terrifying scenes. 
Sometimes the children speak about it. In the class we respect the privacy of the child, so we don’t ask the child to tell us what has happened to him. 
When we work on the events which cause stress, we mention the war and the explosion, which are among other events which happen.
There are children tell you, for example, if we do the breathing exercise or another exercise and said that it relieves us, sometimes a child come and tell you that he had pieces of glass in his leg,  or he was injured, every child spontaneously tells us, I don’t go through details with him but I continue the lesson, this thing is heard and drawn.
A child drew the explosion, I am not sure if it still here, some of them draws the explosion, everyone expresses using his style.
There are children have nightmares, other children can’t sleep, other children don’t want to go out of the house because they are afraid of an explosion.
By the way, they are the same symptoms that adults have them, everybody has the same symptoms. The explosion thundered… he is just a little child… we want to say that for all humans the explosion caused trauma for everyone.

Transcript of Interview with Social emotional support facilitator Chadi Zein:
You saw how the boy participated, he was great, he reached his limit, then he moved to another place. 
We wasted time on behavior issues during the last class.
Today it worked out because I made an intensive lesson about the content of the last lesson and the safe zone, because it was the occasion of prophet’s birthday, I had to do it intensive. 
These activities are one of the most important things that students must learn, not only in difficult times and in the occurrence of disasters and problems. This type of classes should be practice in every school around the world in order to achieve peace in the world. 
Because these activities, which they learn in these classes, allow them to discover what is happening deep inside them, and how they feel when something is happening or if they are thinking about an idea, if that idea is preferred or not, and what can I do for similar thoughts.
They are learning emotional intelligence, the feelings  and the thoughts, that’s means, what I can do when I am scared or sad or angry, should I let it control me and makes me tired and sick, or I manage it in a better way by reducing it and choose what is happening inside me.
He is like a farmer who cultivates his land, he doesn’t leave the weed in his land, but he removes them. The children respond wonderfully in this context.
First of all I ask them, I know when I ask a child how did you feel before and after the activities, from time to time and according to the design of BLB, you have to ask the child: how did you feel, did you do the exercises at home or not, and what did you feel after doing the exercises? He distinguishes where he feels.
For example, this is the scale of feelings, before coming to the center, the children don’t know what they are feeling, and a child lives a state but doesn’t think about it. 
As soon as he arrives in the center he learns how to think, if he is very happy or a little bit happy or a bit sad or very sad, or angry, then he learns that the feelings are normal things, they move like an ocean wave. 
Sometimes, some events cause stress, what I should do to be relieved, so that these events do not disturb me much. What I should do to reduce it. They learn all of this here.
It changes their lives in certain point, I know that this thing has happened in concrete terms from what they say and they tell you.
For example I have three students in one class they are brothers, once the old brother saw his other brothers fighting, he remembered that when they get angry they can do the deep breathing and use other tools, he reminded them of that but they didn’t listen to him, he went to a safe zone and relieved, then he went in the room, he saw his brothers paintings together and stopped fighting, they were communicating between each other.
That’s because all of them used the tools that they learned here, and they used them in their daily life, without need to anybody to remind them of these tools, they remember themselves so they feel more comfortable. 
Because of that, all the children must learn these type of exercises and tools, to be more satisfied and to have a valuable relationship between them and their friends, their teachers and their parents, this relationship should not be built on violence or anger etc.. But built on controlling the feelings and thoughts and to communicate through relations in a comfortable environment, which contains more dialogue.
Also it effects positively on their grades, as well as on everything they do. You asked me how do I know that. At the end of the course we speak with the parents, I ask them, did you see a progress, and they say yes we can feel a concrete progress   
The explosion in Beirut has affected all of us, as adults, in our works and activities, all of us are vulnerable to trauma. It was a trauma for everyone, it was a near-death experience, and we were almost being hurt. If it affected us like this, how did it affect children? The children are fresh dewy buds; definitely they were affected by the explosion. 
Someone thinks that a cloud is an explosion, another when he hears a loud sound, he thinks it is an explosion, and another if he sees smoke he thinks it is an explosion. It exists in their daily life and makes them worried, a part from what they saw, and some children saw very terrifying scenes. 
Sometimes the children speak about it. In the class we respect the privacy of the child, so we don’t ask the child to tell us what has happened to him. 
When we work on the events which cause stress, we mention the war and the explosion, which are among other events which happen.
There are children tell you, for example, if we do the breathing exercise or another exercise and said that it relieves us, sometimes a child come and tell you that he had pieces of glass in his leg,  or he was injured, every child spontaneously tells us, I don’t go through details with him but I continue the lesson, this thing is heard and drawn.
A child drew the explosion, I am not sure if it still here, some of them draws the explosion, everyone expresses using his style.
There are children have nightmares, other children can’t sleep, other children don’t want to go out of the house because they are afraid of an explosion.
By the way, they are the same symptoms that adults have them, everybody has the same symptoms. The explosion thundered… he is just a little child… we want to say that for all humans the explosion caused trauma for everyone.
Read caption Chadi Zein teaching the children about the brain. Photo: Sam Tarling/NRC

Learning to understand emotions

Chadi Zein is one of the emotional support facilitators at NRC’s education centre in Beirut. Chadi welcomes the children to their weekly sessions with warm enthusiasm. When the children arrive, they’re invited to point to how they’re feeling on a scale: from very happy to very sad, or angry.

It’s through these types of exercises, Chadi says, that children begin to learn how to understand and process their emotions.

“Before coming to the centre, the children don’t know what they are feeling. They can live in a particular state but they’re unable to understand what it is that they feel,” he explains.

“But at the centre they learn that these feelings are normal. Sometimes, events can cause stress, and the children learn what they can do to relieve it, so that these events do not disturb them. At a certain point it begins to change their lives.”

Lebanese and Syrian children, who were affected by the Beirut explosion, are participating in the Psychosocial support sessions implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council to help them deal with their traumas.

Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC

The children learn to integrate the strategies into their everyday lives, so they can cope with stressful situations and thrive at school.

“The children are responding beautifully. Each child takes it at their own pace and rhythm,” says Chadi.

“The impact is positive and fruitful for the children. It gives them tools to cope better in conflict situations. How to deal with anger, how to deal with fear, how to deal with volatile thoughts.”

• How long have you been working for NRC? Since September 
• How are the children responding to the activities they are learning at the center? “The children are responding beautifully. Each child takes it at their own pace and rhythm. The impact is positive and fruitful for the children. It gives them tools to cope better in conflict situations. How to deal with anger, how to deal wit fear how to deal with volatile thoughts with very efficient techniques.”

• What do the children tell you about the activities? “They get a lot of pleasure. They get a lot of joy, relaxation and wellbeing.”  

• What are the challenges you see with the children and the experience they have gone through? “Some have been slightly injured from the explosion. Others have witnessed terrorising moments. Some tell you they had shattered glass on their feet, on their faces. But we cannot generalise, these are certain cases.”

• What does the parents of the children tell you about the impact of NRC’s activities on their children? “The parents have said to me ‘what are you doing with the children, they are transformed. What are you doing with them, we want the same thing!’ They are feeling the evolution of their child.”

Transcript of video interview with Social Emotional Support Facilitator Chadi Zein:
These activities are one of the most important things that students must learn, not only in difficult times and in the occurrence of disasters and problems. This type of classes should be practice in every school around the world in order to achieve peace in the world. 
Because these activities, which they learn in these classes, allow them to discover what is happening deep inside them, and how they feel when something is happening or if they are thinking about an idea, if that idea is preferred or not, and what can I do for similar thoughts.
They are learning emotional intelligence, the feelings  and the thoughts, that’s means, what I can do when I am scared or sad or angry, should I let it control me and makes me tired and sick, or I manage it in a better way by reducing it and choose what is happening inside me.
He is like a farmer who cultivates his land, he doesn’t leave the weed in his land, but he removes them. The children respond wonderfully in this context.
First of all I ask them, I know when I ask a child how did you feel before and after the activities, from time to time and according to the design of BLB, you have to ask the child: how did you feel, did you do the exercises at home or not, and what did you feel after doing the exercises? He distinguishes where he feels.
For example, this is the scale of feelings, before coming to the center, the children don’t know what they are feeling, and a child lives a state but doesn’t think about it. 
As soon as he arrives in the center he learns how to think, if he is very happy or a little bit happy or a bit sad or very sad, or angry, then he learns that the feelings are normal things, they move like an ocean wave. 
Sometimes, some events cause stress, what I should do to be relieved, so that these events do not disturb me much. What I should do to reduce it. They learn all of this here.
It changes their lives in certain point, I know that this thing has happened in concrete terms from what they say and they tell you.
For example I have three students in one class they are brothers, once the old brother saw his other brothers fighting, he remembered that when they get angry they can do the deep breathing and use other tools, he reminded them of that but they didn’t listen to him, he went to a safe zone and relieved, then he went in the room, he saw his brothers paintings together and stopped fighting, they were communicating between each other.
That’s because all of them used the tools that they learned here, and they used them in their daily life, without need to anybody to remind them of these tools, they remember themselves so they feel more comfortable. 
Because of that, all the children must learn these type of exercises and tools, to be more satisfied and to have a valuable relationship between them and their friends, their teachers and their parents, this relationship should not be built on violence or anger etc.. But built on controlling the feelings and thoughts and to communicate through relations in a comfortable environment, which contains more dialogue.
Also it effects positively on their grades, as well as on everything they do. You asked me how do I know that. At the end of the course we speak with the parents, I ask them, did you see a progress, and they say yes we can feel a concrete progress   
The explosion in Beirut has affected all of us, as adults, in our works and activities, all of us are vulnerable to trauma. It was a trauma for everyone, it was a near-death experience, and we were almost being hurt. If it affected us like this, how did it affect children? The children are fresh dewy buds; definitely they were affected by the explosion. 
Someone thinks that a cloud is an explosion, another when he hears a loud sound, he thinks it is an explosion, and another if he sees smoke he thinks it is an explosion. It exists in their daily life and makes them worried, a part from what they saw, and some children saw very terrifying scenes. 
Sometimes the children speak about it. In the class we respect the privacy of the child, so we don’t ask the child to tell us what has happened to him. 
When we work on the events which cause stress, we mention the war and the explosion, which are among other events which happen.
There are children tell you, for example, if we do the breathing exercise or another exercise and said that it relieves us, sometimes a child come and tell you that he had pieces of glass in his leg,  or he was injured, every child spontaneously tells us, I don’t go through details with him but I continue the lesson, this thing is heard and drawn.
A child drew the explosion, I am not sure if it still here, some of them draws the explosion, everyone expresses using his style.
There are children have nightmares, other children can’t sleep, other children don’t want to go out of the house because they are afraid of an explosion.
By the way, they are the same symptoms that adults have them, everybody has the same symptoms. The explosion thundered… he is just a little child… we want to say that for all humans the explosion caused trauma for everyone.

Transcript of Interview with Social emotional support facilitator Chadi Zein:
You saw how the boy participated, he was great, he reached his limit, then he moved to another place. 
We wasted time on behavior issues during the last class.
Today it worked out because I made an intensive lesson about the content of the last lesson and the safe zone, because it was the occasion of prophet’s birthday, I had to do it intensive. 
These activities are one of the most important things that students must learn, not only in difficult times and in the occurrence of disasters and problems. This type of classes should be practice in every school around the world in order to achieve peace in the world. 
Because these activities, which they learn in these classes, allow them to discover what is happening deep inside them, and how they feel when something is happening or if they are thinking about an idea, if that idea is preferred or not, and what can I do for similar thoughts.
They are learning emotional intelligence, the feelings  and the thoughts, that’s means, what I can do when I am scared or sad or angry, should I let it control me and makes me tired and sick, or I manage it in a better way by reducing it and choose what is happening inside me.
He is like a farmer who cultivates his land, he doesn’t leave the weed in his land, but he removes them. The children respond wonderfully in this context.
First of all I ask them, I know when I ask a child how did you feel before and after the activities, from time to time and according to the design of BLB, you have to ask the child: how did you feel, did you do the exercises at home or not, and what did you feel after doing the exercises? He distinguishes where he feels.
For example, this is the scale of feelings, before coming to the center, the children don’t know what they are feeling, and a child lives a state but doesn’t think about it. 
As soon as he arrives in the center he learns how to think, if he is very happy or a little bit happy or a bit sad or very sad, or angry, then he learns that the feelings are normal things, they move like an ocean wave. 
Sometimes, some events cause stress, what I should do to be relieved, so that these events do not disturb me much. What I should do to reduce it. They learn all of this here.
It changes their lives in certain point, I know that this thing has happened in concrete terms from what they say and they tell you.
For example I have three students in one class they are brothers, once the old brother saw his other brothers fighting, he remembered that when they get angry they can do the deep breathing and use other tools, he reminded them of that but they didn’t listen to him, he went to a safe zone and relieved, then he went in the room, he saw his brothers paintings together and stopped fighting, they were communicating between each other.
That’s because all of them used the tools that they learned here, and they used them in their daily life, without need to anybody to remind them of these tools, they remember themselves so they feel more comfortable. 
Because of that, all the children must learn these type of exercises and tools, to be more satisfied and to have a valuable relationship between them and their friends, their teachers and their parents, this relationship should not be built on violence or anger etc.. But built on controlling the feelings and thoughts and to communicate through relations in a comfortable environment, which contains more dialogue.
Also it effects positively on their grades, as well as on everything they do. You asked me how do I know that. At the end of the course we speak with the parents, I ask them, did you see a progress, and they say yes we can feel a concrete progress   
The explosion in Beirut has affected all of us, as adults, in our works and activities, all of us are vulnerable to trauma. It was a trauma for everyone, it was a near-death experience, and we were almost being hurt. If it affected us like this, how did it affect children? The children are fresh dewy buds; definitely they were affected by the explosion. 
Someone thinks that a cloud is an explosion, another when he hears a loud sound, he thinks it is an explosion, and another if he sees smoke he thinks it is an explosion. It exists in their daily life and makes them worried, a part from what they saw, and some children saw very terrifying scenes. 
Sometimes the children speak about it. In the class we respect the privacy of the child, so we don’t ask the child to tell us what has happened to him. 
When we work on the events which cause stress, we mention the war and the explosion, which are among other events which happen.
There are children tell you, for example, if we do the breathing exercise or another exercise and said that it relieves us, sometimes a child come and tell you that he had pieces of glass in his leg,  or he was injured, every child spontaneously tells us, I don’t go through details with him but I continue the lesson, this thing is heard and drawn.
A child drew the explosion, I am not sure if it still here, some of them draws the explosion, everyone expresses using his style.
There are children have nightmares, other children can’t sleep, other children don’t want to go out of the house because they are afraid of an explosion.
By the way, they are the same symptoms that adults have them, everybody has the same symptoms. The explosion thundered… he is just a little child… we want to say that for all humans the explosion caused trauma for everyone.
Read caption Chadi says that the children respond “beautifully” to the exercises. Photo: Sam Tarling/NRC

These classes should happen everywhere

The classes are available to children between the ages of four and 14. The area most affected by the blast is multicultural, and so far, we have had Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqi, Sudanese, Palestinian and Filipino children join the classes. Parents are invited to enrol their children on the programme if they feel it will be helpful.

“The parents have said to me: ‘what are you doing with the children? They are transformed!’ They are feeling the evolution of their child,” says Chadi, with pride.

For many Syrian refugee children, the explosion six months ago triggered some traumatic memories from the time when they were forced to flee. In addition, all children in Lebanon (and around the world) have been affected by the disruption to daily life that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused.

Chadi believes that teaching all children from a young age how to deal with unexpected and traumatic events is invaluable.

“These activities are one of the most important things that a student can learn, and not only in times of difficulty. These types of classes should be practised in every school around the globe. They would help to achieve peace in the world.”

***

Our response to the Beirut explosion has been made possible thanks to the generous support of people like you who have donated to our fundraiser. We would also like to thank the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Foreign Office, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Agence Française de Développement for their continued support.