Abu Dhabi: A group of dedicated schoolchildren and their teacher are running a voluntary programme to help displaced children in the capital catch up on their education.
Organised by the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), in collaboration with the Sheikh Zayed Private Academy, the lessons have continued throughout the coronavirus restrictions. Speaking to Gulf News, the volunteers said the initiative, titled Basmet Amal, give them a real chance to give back to the community.
“Our school encourages volunteering, and I have been supervising community service programmes for the last few years. When ERC pointed out the need to help these children fill up gaps in their education, we were happy to assist,” said Raeda Faisal, an Arabic teacher at the school.
Since November, 35 students displaced from Syria and Palestine have been offered lessons in core subjects like English, Math, Arabic, Science, Islamic and Sign Language. Along with Faisal, 17 middle and high school students are volunteering for the programme.
“Because of their situation, the displaced children have missed out on essential lessons, and are unable to join a particular grade level at school. With our effort, we hope they will be ready and confident to get back to formal schooling soon,” Faisal said.
Faisal and her team prepare slideshows, organise competitions, and allow children to explore their talents. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the sessions were conducted in person, but the team has successfully transferred the lessons online since March.
Special lessons have also been organised to teach students about the importance of hygiene and cleanliness, and to help them develop their digital skills.
The classes are set to go on even during the summer, and volunteers show no signs of tiring.
“I believe I have learnt more from these students than I’ve been able to teach them. They are so perseverant, and haven’t given up despite the difficulties they have faced. It really highlights how we should never take our education for granted,” said Fatima Abdul Nasser, 17, A Grade 12 student from Iraq.
Shatha Almazrouei, 15, an Emirate student in Grade 10, said she was enjoying the experience so much that she had set aside time for it even while juggling her own schoolwork.
“So many of the children have hidden skills that we’ve been lucky to explore. And it has been a pleasure to give back to the community at a time when doing so is especially important,” Almazrouei said.