In a nutshell, just.childhood is dedicated to the children of Shatila Refugee Camp in Lebanon. The idea of establishing our kindergarten Bait al-Shams was born out of the needs of the community. We are passionate about giving the wonderful children of Shatila and their parents a future of better possibilities and hope. As many others, we truly believe that education is one of the most important pillars of development as it is a chance to break the cycle of poverty and lack of rights. What you quickly learn is that Palestinians in Lebanon are denied a past as well as a future. For example, Palestinian children are only under certain circumstances admitted to Lebanese public schools. If accepted, however, they often are discriminated against both by their fellow students as well as teachers. Alternatively, most children enroll in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). For visiting one of these schools it is essential to visit a kindergarten as reading and writing skills are expected when entering school. UNRWA itself does not run kindergartens in Shatila.
With Bait al-Shams, just.childhood is offering the children of Shatila Refugee Camp a safe space for learning and simply being a child on a continuous, reliable basis and prepare them for school.
Bait al-Sham’s approach is based on Waldorf Early Childhood Education and emphasizes on the role of imagination in learning and developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component. We would like to provide the children the basis on which to develop into free, morally responsible and integrated individuals, and to help every child fulfill his or her unique destiny.
Already the fourth generation of Palestinian refugee’s lives in a hostile environment, is denied basic human rights, and has no effective means of representation or education. Originally hosting hundreds of refugees, Shatila has grown since 1949 to more than 12,000 registered Palestinian refugees. With the influx of Syrian refugees into Palestinian camps there are currently more than 22,000 people living in Shatila. There is a lack of privacy and natural light. It is not surprising that all these factors lead to violence in many aspects of life (even in schools), drug abuse, as well as severe psychological problems. Our Kindergarten Bait al-Shams is open to all children living in Shatila, giving them a safe space for learning and simply being a child on a continuous, reliable basis, and a future of possibility and hope. The appropriate and culturally sensitive humanitarian assistance is providing a foundation for sustainable development by actively involving the target group in the planning, implementation and management process.