Southern Lebanon is a wonder for those who enjoy history dating back to over 6,000 years ago. There are dozens of Biblical sites, ruins, ancient trading centres and cities, and pieces of the past to explore.
Sferai is close to Saida, Lebanon’s old harbour city. There are refugee camps for Palestinians in Sferai or close to Sferai where life is difficult for the thousands who have settled down in the area.
Children affected by poverty and conflict
Sferai is in one of the poorest parts of Lebanon. It was affected by past conflicts, the latest being in 2006 when violence erupted between the Lebanese army and militant groups. The area has not yet recovered from the Israeli occupation.
The economy in south Lebanon relies heavily on agriculture and fishing. Unemployment is high and urban poverty is on the rise. The living conditions are challenging because of overcrowding, lack of social services and inadequate facilities.
Since the civil war erupted in neighbouring Syria the southern part of Lebanon where Sferai is located has become a safe-haven for refugees. The Ein-al Hilweh and Mieh Mieh refugee camps, orginally home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees, are found here and have expanded to accomodate the influx of Syrians. They are becoming increasingly overcrowded and life for those who live there is very difficult. Children are unable to go to school and are growing up in squalid conditions.
A tough childhood
Lebanon has approximately 1.3 million children below the age of 18, while 30% of south Lebanon’s population is under 20 years. Post civil war Lebanon continues to struggle with its political, economic, and social growth. It is estimated that over 100,000 children are engaged in child labour, working under dire conditions and for low pay.
Many of the schools around the country are damaged and about 32% of children aged 12 to 13 ends up leaving school. The illiteracy rate in south Lebanon among adults is 17% making this group unable to earn decent wages to support a family.
Offering hope in Sferai
Sferai was the site of the second SOS Children’s Village in Lebanon. The community, built in 1982, includes ten traditional Lebanese family homes where children are cared for by SOS Mothers.
In 2003, we were able to build an SOS Nursery for the youngest children in our care. Upon reaching adolescence, young people are supported to become independent, find work or pursue further education.
Supporting the local community
During the Israeli occupation, the SOS Village was used as a haven for families in need. It was a safe zone. Here we offered widowed women vocational classes, so they could learn new skills and find work.
We do a lot of work to protect the rights of children in Lebanon. We want to influence decision-makers so that lcoal policies and practices reflect the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Children in Lebanon have suffered from conflict and war. Many have lost parental care. We look after them in our Children's Village until they are ready to live independent and successful lives. Will you sponsor one of these children today?