Statement from Grace Atkinson, Executive Director of Jusoor:
“As the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues, we are stepping up our efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable Syrian children and youth around the world continue to have access to life-changing education and opportunities.
Here at Jusoor, we are working around the clock to swiftly adapt our programming to limit the impact on our beneficiaries and maintain sustainability during this challenging time.
Lebanon, the home of our Refugee Education Program, has been in financial and political crisis since last autumn. Despite the resulting roadblocks and protests, our three educational centers remained open to serve the more than 1,400 children we reach annually – and of course our extended family of 40+ Syrian teachers and staff who make these children’s brighter futures possible.
However, we were forced to temporarily suspend operations earlier this month due to a government mandate closing all schools until at least March 27 in response to COVID-19. Fortunately, our team prepared well in anticipation of the closure, giving students activities to do from home and informing them of government-recommended hygienic practices and social distancing guidelines. Parents report that their children shared this information with their families, and we are proud of this multiplier effect as our small contribution to help combat the virus spread in Lebanon. Our dedicated teachers and staff are currently working from home, compiling lesson plans and evaluating how we can best refine our programming to assist our students as we prepare for social isolation.
Our Scholarship Program has begun weekly check-ins with our scholars to assist them as they shift to online learning. We are also providing laptops and Internet service to our scholars in need in Jordan so they too can continue their studies despite conditions in their refugee camp. This week we are launching the Jusoor Buddy System, which will serve as a formal channel for scholars to supplement their online learning with peer-to-peer mentorship from fellow Jusoor scholars studying in the same field. All 70+ of our current scholars also have access to our resident psychosocial support counselor, who is offering virtual sessions free of charge.
Our Entrepreneurship Program is staying in close contact with our start-ups to ensure they can access the support required to maintain their operations. We are also encouraging a shift to online operations where possible and are providing these start-ups with information on how to adapt to this approach. We are hoping to kick off our third annual Roadshow this summer to reunite with these hardworking teams and to meet the next generation of inspiring entrepreneurs.
The Jusoor team has successfully transitioned to teleworking and will stay committed to our mission while adapting to the global situation, reassessing our strategy at each phase to ensure we continue to serve our beneficiaries as best as we can. Watch this space for more ways to support Jusoor online in the coming days.
Here at Jusoor, we remain deeply appreciative of your support during these difficult times to support Syria’s children and youth to access opportunities and maintain our programs throughout this period.
We sincerely hope you, your families, and loved ones stay safe during these challenging times.”