“In the explosion, I was afraid, I was sad. The glass broke and fell on us, and I was sad,” Laila says.
At 11 years old, Laila is pretty sure she knows what she wants to be when she grows up: a lawyer. “A lot of people tell me that I like to prove my point if I’m saying something right,” she explains, laughing. But there is another reason she wants to be a lawyer, too. “… I really like defending people,” she says. Laila is one of the many children in Lebanon living through an unprecedented time of crisis in the country. Compounding crises—economic turmoil, the devastating explosion, and the pandemic—have made her childhood extremely different than it was even a few years ago.
As is the case for many children experiencing trauma, her Nazarene school has become a place of refuge and hope during a long season of turmoil. “[The Nazarene school] taught me something different about life,” Laila says. “They even changed me as a person.”
At 16, Amir is shouldering more than any child should have to. Caught up in the crises in Lebanon, he says that he wants the economic crisis to change so his parents will be less worried. “Now, in life, everything is worrying,” he explains.
Right now, Amir hopes to be a computer scientist when he grows up. In fact, he was playing games on his computer when the explosion occurred in August 2020. “… all of the sudden the house started shaking, the windows opened,” he says. “Everybody got scared.”
Like Laila, Amir attends the Nazarene school in Lebanon. There, children who are caught in crises can experience safety and support. In short, it is a place where they can feel like kids again.
*Children’s names are changed for privacy.