In Lebanon gyms, playtime and escape for Syrian children

first_imgMaram al-Malwa, a 17-year-old paid volunteer who came up in the program, recalls her own feelings of isolation when she and her family fled from Aleppo to Lebanon five years ago. “It was a new country, even a new accent,” she said.But now she is irrepressible, rising on the balls of her feet when she speaks and helping coaches reach through to children in the group activities. She is one of a handful of the children pulled aside for a six-month mentorship on leadership and coaching.“You grow, you experience victories, setbacks, you learn to fight for yourself, and you become more confident,” she said.When hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes or were forced into Lebanon during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, they set to work mending the national fabric through schools, scouts, and athletics, with the support of Arab nationalist groups.But Syrians have not been able to count on the same sense of solidarity. And as the U.N. and aid groups have struggled to assist the nearly 5 million Syrian refugees scattered across the region, the focus has been on schooling, aid and shelter, with few resources left over for cultural or recreational activities.ADVERTISEMENT Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Panelo: Duterte only wants to emulate strong political will of Marcos “Children won’t necessarily express themselves unless you give them an outlet, and sports are an excellent medium to do so,” said Nakib, the technical director.Rania Qadri, who fled from Syria’s southern Daraa province, said she saw her oldest daughter change before her eyes.“She used to be introverted, she wouldn’t speak to anyone,” she said. “Now she comes home and tells me, ‘I’ve made friends, we’ve been playing soccer, we’ve been playing games and sports.’”Staffers are trained to identify struggling children, those who lash out and those who retreat into their shells. Psychologists meet with parents weekly to discuss healthy relationships and domestic violence.The group sessions often bring to light domestic disputes, learning disabilities or experiences of sexual violence. The children are then referred to specialized non-governmental organizations for further support.In other cases, children will reveal that they are not enrolled in school, and staffers will direct them to organizations that can help. Two-thirds of Syrian children in Lebanon do not attend school, according to U.N. figures, in part because the country’s underfunded public education system has been overwhelmed by the new arrivals.On a recent Sunday, the children lined up to dribble through cones, shoot layups and learn cheers and stretches.“You see a lot of cases of shyness or stubbornness, and you immediately see them change when they’re here,” said al-Malwa, the teenage volunteer. “I feel like I’m responsible, like I’m in charge of a group.” View comments Christmas meals draw Lebanese together at protest site PLAY LIST 01:18Christmas meals draw Lebanese together at protest site02:44Lebanese protest at new PM’s home, demand he quits01:33Special Christmas delivery for US troops in Syria01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite 2 ‘bookies’ bet collectors held in Quezon MOST READ Marcos monument beside Aquino’s stirs Tarlac town Santos on SMB’s title chances: ‘Dapat mas gamay mo na’ Palace: Crisis over ABS-CBN franchise unlikelycenter_img “We try to get them out of their stressful environments and the frights that they’ve lived through,” said Maher Nakib, 40, the technical director of Hoops Lebanon, the sports association behind the project.Of the one million Syrian refugees the U.N. says are living in Lebanon, more than half are under 18 years old. Syrians here face legal and other forms of discrimination, and many parents are hesitant to let their children play outside in the crowded alleys of Beirut’s poorer neighborhoods, where most of the refugees live.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSBreak new groundSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnThe monthlong Hoops program provides a safe environment where the children can blow off steam, as well as learn self-confidence and teamwork.“They come back home and they’re too tired to fight,” smiles Fatima Tayjan, a refugee from the Syrian city of Aleppo who has enrolled three of her four children in the program. When her family of six returns home to their crowded two-bedroom apartment, the children have “released all their energy and they are ready to talk to each other,” she said. Prince Harry: ‘No other option’ but to cut royal ties China counts sharp rise in coronavirus cases, 2 in Beijing Motorcycle taxis ‘illegal’ starting next week — LTFRB board member LATEST STORIES Taal Volcano continues to emit steam, ash from weak explosions Beggar dead in Quezon hit-and-run incident Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. In this picture taken on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, Syrian refugee girls attend a basketball training session at a private sports club, southern Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)BEIRUT, Lebanon—Every Sunday, the gymnasium along Beirut’s airport highway echoes with the shouting and laughter of dozens of Syrian children enjoying a rare escape from a grim and confined life in exile.The Sport 4 Development program, run by the U.N. children’s agency, aims to bring 12,000 children, mostly Syrian refugees, to blacktops and turf pitches this year to teach the basics of soccer and basketball, and to ease the pain of war and displacement.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

Pacquiao, Horn make weight for fight

first_imgRacela: We’ll find better ways to defend San Miguel Missile-capable frigate BRP Jose Rizal inches closer to entering PH Navy’s fleet LATEST STORIES McGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC return Read Next Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Tobias Harris’ late 3 seals Sixers’ win over Knicks LaVine scores 42, Chicago rallies late to beat Cavs Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. BRISBANE, Australia— The last of the formalities is over, and Manny Pacquiao is ready for his WBO welterweight world title defense against Australian Jeff Horn.Both boxers easily made the weight on Saturday morning at Suncorp Stadium, with Pacquiao tipping the scales at 66.1 kilograms (146 pounds) and Horn weighing in at 66.3 kilograms (147 pounds).ADVERTISEMENT LSU title parade draws massive crowds MOST READ Clippers, Lakers among most-watched NBA teams by Filipinos BACKSTORY: Jeff Horn starving, still overweightManny Pacquiao, left, and Jeff Horn pose for a photo after weighing in, Tuesday, July 1, 2017, in Brisbane, Australia. Pacquiao, is putting his WBO welterweight world title on the line Sunday, July 2, against the 29-year-old Horn. APPacquiao, an 11-time world champion across eight divisions, is a hot favorite to win his 60th fight when he lines up against Horn, the 29-year-old former school teacher who is unbeaten in his 17 fights since turning pro in 2013.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’The fight will be held on Sunday afternoon local time and broadcast live on ESPN into the U.S. on Saturday night.READ: Pacquiao vs Horn: Chance for a masterpiece Thousands join Kalibo Ati-atihan despite typhoon devastation End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparc View commentslast_img read more