Over the last four years, the Asfari and Saïd Foundations alongside the Building a Better Tomorrow Appeal supporters have provided meaningful support to over 45,000 Syrian refugee children and their families in Lebanon. From the clients we serve and everyone at the IRC, thank you very much.

Supporting the futures of Syrian children

In 2019, the Saïd and Asfari Foundations, alongside other generous supporters and the International Rescue Committee, set out together to ensure that Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon have access to education and opportunities that will help them thrive.  

Through the Building a Better Tomorrow programme we have provided Syrian children, including adolescent girls and street working children, with basic literacy and numeracy classes. We are also worked to address the surrounding issues they might be facing that threaten their safety and prevent them from accessing an education.   

Through life skills sessions and psychosocial support sessions, we have helped children to build resilience and process their mental health challenges. For adolescent girls, we offered an IRC-developed programme called ‘Girl Shine,’ which was designed to empower young girls to protect themselves against gender-based violence. Caregivers were also able to receive cash assistance to support the needs of their families.    

To ensure we’re having the biggest impact, the IRC constantly evaluates the situation facing the community we work with so we can respond effectively. When COVID-19 started spreading to Lebanon, the IRC quickly adapted our activities to be able to continue to provide services to children and young people. As the situation developed, we continued to adapt these activities accordingly.   

If you would like to hear more about the Building a Better Tomorrow programme, please reach out to Katherine Greig: [email protected]You can also learn more about other areas of our work in Lebanon here.

The Building a Better Tomorrow programme’s achievements over the last four years

The Building a Better Tomorrow programme over the past four years has helped an incredible 45,692 individuals. This programme has provided life changing knowledge and developed skills for Syrian refugee children to build their own futures.

Year 1

7,219 individual clients served.

By the end of year one, the Building a Better Tomorrow programme had already achieved 50% of its goal of reaching 300 street and working children with personalized 1-1 services.

Year 2

12,187 individual clients served.

In year 2 of the Building a Better Tomorrow programme, the IRC began working with local partner, LebRelief to implement child protection and education activities.

Year 3

12,414 individual clients served.

In year 3 of the Building a Better Tomorrow programme, the IRC began working with a second local partner, Jousour Al Nour, to implement job skills training for children who had been working on the street.

Year 4

13,872 individual clients served.

Looking over the past four years of the Building a Better Tomorrow programme, the Lebanon team have been able to surpass the original target of serving 34,780 clients by reaching an additional 10,912 clients.

The Asfari and Saïd Foundations have shown a great deal of flexibility and support throughout this programme. This has enabled the Lebanon team to help more people and ultimately change more lives for the better.


Thousands of children and their families have been supported through the Building a Better Tomorrow programme, here are some of their stories. 

Fahima’s story

Fahima, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee, attended Women’s Protection and Empowerment sessions with the IRC for six months. Previously Fahima, who lives with developmental delays and health problems, including a visual impairment had become depressed. She avoided meeting people or getting out of the house and had even used self-harm to cope with distressing thoughts. When the IRC WPE team started activities in her neighbourhood, her sister encouraged her to attend.

As the IRC adopts an inclusive approach in its Safe Spaces, the team adapted the activities to meet Fahima's needs. With the support of the facilitators, Fahima was able to stay on track with the curriculum. Her peers supported and encouraged her to participate and told her that her presence in the sessions was necessary for them. Fahima says that she now has a support network and has enjoyed the WPE activities.

Fahima has benefitted especially from the sessions on self-confidence and self-esteem, which are part of the Life Skills Through Drama curriculum as she is now more aware of the importance of appreciating and loving herself. She is trying new activities and is interested in drawing with the support of the facilitators. They choose colours together and Fahima enjoys feeling the watercolours on her hands. Her father has also said that her behaviour is improving as she is becoming more socially engaged. She is developing positive behaviour with her siblings and approaching them when she wants to play. The best part is that Fahima is developing friendships.

Samira’s story

After many ups and downs, 34-year-old Samira made her dream cometrue when she graduated, completed her internship and officially qualified as a lawyer in Syria. But when the war forced her to flee her home city to Lebanon, her dream swiftly came to an end.

Samira found her life radically changed in a village in Akkar, a new community and with fewer opportunities. She got married thinking that her life might change, but this wasn't the case as she had to take on many new responsibilities. For many years Samira lived isolated and lonely in her house in a remote area, avoiding socializing and meeting people from the community. This situation continued until she met one of the WPE staff, who invited her to meet with a group of women in the area.

The group meetings were an opportunity for her to deal with her anxiety and she eventually offered to volunteer with the WPE team. Getting involved in the team’s outreach helped her to interact with new people and meet different communities. Running awareness sessions activated her communication skills and made her feel alive again. She realised that her dream wasn’t lost. With the support of the team and with her newfound confidence, she felt important again, which reignited her passion for education and learning new things every day.

Sahar’s Story

Eighteen-year-old Sahar* describes herself as “strong, persistent, and self-confident”. She has been participating in the Girl Shine programme since last October and has worked on her self-development and gained life skills that have helped her overcome the traumas and violence she has experienced.

When Sahar fled the Syrian crisis to northern Lebanon in 2012, she suffered from the poor conditions of the area she settled in. It is especially tough for girls to live in camps or crowded refugee settings as they face an increased risk of gender-based violence. “It was unsafe, especially for girls my age, to go outside. I remember coming back from work after a night shift in Ramadan. I experienced harassment in the street in our neighbourhood, and I have been traumatized since that day,” says Sahar.

With the help of the IRC team, Sahar developed a convenient action plan during the community safety activity that she can use to overcome the risks in her neighbourhood.

“After the harassment incident occurred, I stayed away from people and hated socializing and making friends. After the sessions and efforts of the programme’s facilitator, I became the exact opposite of who I was''. ''I learnt how to mitigate the risks and protect myself from any harm. Now, when I see people in the street, I look at them without fear. I know now that I am equal to Lebanese, Syrians, or any other person,” says Sahar.

I learnt that growing and building a network of friends and people I can trust is like a growing tree; the bigger it becomes, the more it can protect you,” says Sahar.

Since her displacement, Sahar had to drop out of school and work to support her family. However, after attending the IRC sessions, Sahar returned to school and became a student of honour and restored her confidence.

“I now dream of becoming a humanitarian worker like Elissar and Hiba to help other girls who need empowerment. To become a humanitarian worker, I will start by enrolling in an English course in the summer, so I learn English like Elissar and Hiba and pursue higher humanitarian-related studies in the future,” says Sahar. She cites Elissar as her mentor because she inspired her to become a better person and because she is kind to her and to all the girls in the sessions. “Girls need to have the same opportunities to become independent, empowered, protected, and have their own identities. Educated girls can overcome any obstacle,” says Sahar.

Sahar has a message for those who are afraid to go out and face the world: “Girls need to follow their dreams, pursue their education or enrol in the Girl Shine programme, as it empowers them. Now I am getting trained with the IRC to become a mentor and rescue other girls in my community just like I was rescued, from harm to home. No girl should be left behind!”

Thank you to the Saïd and Asfari Foundations and all the Building a Better Tomorrow Appeal donors for your tremendous support over the last four years.

Together, we have created opportunities for 45,692 individuals to access education within a safe environment. We are incredibly grateful for your generosity and flexibility and look forward to identifying new ways in which we can work together to make a difference in the lives of Syrian refugees around the world.