“The teachers are like fathers for me,” says Abdullah who lost his own father during the ISIL takeover

“The teachers are like fathers for me,” says Abdullah who lost his own father during the ISIL takeover

May 27, 2019

Fourteen-year-old Abdullah was born in Aishak in the Hawija district of Iraq. With his parents, two brothers and four sisters, he lived a peaceful life. He was in fourth grade when ISIL took over the area. "I left school for more than three years," says Abdullah and his uncle Mosab adds: "Abdullah left as many of his peers did when ISIL changed the curricula and started teaching children about killing and destruction." 

However, the worst moment in Abdullah’s life had yet to come. "ISIL kidnapped and murdered Abdullah’s father. The whole family was shocked, suffered a lot and their living conditions became harder," Mosab explains. Since Abdullah was the oldest son, he became responsible for the livelihood of the family. "At a very young age, he started working in a grocery store where he earned very little money," recalls his uncle.

Responsibility and Loss Changed Abdullah

Abdullah’s uncle noticed that having to be responsible for the entire family and losing his father changed Abdullah considerably. “He became aggressive and started to behave more like an adult," his uncle remembers. The situation changed significantly when the area was freed from ISIL control. During the back to school campaign organised by People in Need and UNICEF, the facilitators identified children who had been out of school and Abdullah was one of them. When teachers presented the activities, he was very interested in attending.

"What makes me really like my new school is the parental care that the teachers are providing me. The teachers are like fathers for me. They are supportive and treat me kindly," says Abdullah. "Therefore, I have become more committed to attending all the classes in order to regain what I have forgot especially in the main subjects like Arabic, Math and Science," he adds. Abdullah’s dream is to be able to read and write properly again. "Joining a new school has helped me a lot to start recovering from what I have witnessed during the past three years and also to begin to overcome the challenges that I am currently facing," explains Abdullah.

Apples and Oranges to Apologise for Bad Behaviour

The changes are already noticeable to teachers and family. "I remember once Abdullah bit his classmate while they were playing. I stopped him immediately and I talked with him in private that this behaviour was unacceptable and he needed to apologise to his classmate. I explained that there is always a way to solve problems without being violent to others," his teacher Taiser recalls. Abdullah really took teacher Taiser’s advice to heart. "It was surprising for me when Abdullah went to the grocery store where he worked and bought an apple and an orange to give to his classmate in order to apologise for his bad behaviour," Taiser admits.

When the teachers saw his enthusiasm for learning, they began to provide him with private lessons for when he was not able to attend school.

How Has the Program by People in Need and UNICEF Influenced Teachers?

"I love teaching Math and Science, and after the pedagogy training I received new knowledge about other subjects, like Arabic. These trainings increased my capacity," says Taiser. "Trainings on psychosocial support were very beneficial as I became more aware of the concept and how effective this program can be on the wellbeing of the children," he explains and adds that the financial support helped him to cover the costs of living.

The influence of having more skilled teachers and facilitators has become visible also in Abdullah’s family. "After having participated in the activities for a while, Abdullah’s his behaviour dramatically changed. He established friendships with other children, he became more aware about how to deal with daily stress and most importantly, he started learning gradually," Mosab beams with pride as he describes the recent changes he sees in his nephew.

People in Need and UNICEF Support in Numbers:

The project “Building Resilience of Conflict Affected Children through the Provision of Integrated Assistance to Communities in Hawija” covers three geographical areas - Hawija, Abbasi, and Al Zab sub districts. 

Educational Activities

  • Goal: Support the registration and enrolment of 15,000 children into schools to provide non-formal education services

     •Result: 15,075 children (8,160 boys, 6,915 girls) attended the program activities during the month of April in 66 different schools.

  • Goal: Boost the registration and enrolment of 1,000 children into formal schools.

     •Result: In April, the teachers/facilitators provided remedial classes, awareness sessions  and PSS activities for 480 out-of-school children (263 females, 217 males).

  • Goal: Encourage the provision of learning materials, textbooks, and stationary for all project-targeted schools.

      •Result: PIN copied and distributed 750 books to three schools, the books were mainly  for the subjects Math, Arabic and English for different grades.

  • Goal: Distribute the provision of teaching supplies, mainly School-in-a-Box and recreational kits

     •Result: School-in-a-Box and recreational kits were distributed to 125 teachers/facilitators

  • Goal: Provide an incentive to 125 teachers/facilitators to deliever the programme activity on a monthly basis

     •Result: PIN provided six days of training to 125 nominated teachers/facilitators. Two days were spent on Psychosocial Support (PSS) and four days were devoted to Teachers in Conflict Contexts (TICC).

  • Goal: Educate 125 teachers/facilitators in pedagogy (literacy and numeracy) to improve the quality of education.

     •Result: 15 days of training about pedagogy targeting 125 teachers/facilitators (17 females, 108 males) was finalised on Jan 16th.

  • Goal: Provide Psychosocial Support (PSS) to the children at risk, targeting 15,000 children.

     •Result: In April 15,075 children (8160 boys, 6915 girls) were provided with PSS activities

  • Goal: Establish and train 66 Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs).

     •Result: PTAs in 66 schools were either established or reformed following PIN manual.

  • Goal: Provide an incentive to 125 teachers/facilitators to deliever the programme activity on a monthly basis.

     •Result: 125 teachers / facilitators (male and female) receive incentives on a monthly basis. 10 USD per day according to the Education Cluster recommendation.

WASH activities:

  • Goal: Distribute basic hygiene kits for 15,000 children.

     •Result: We distributed 15,400 hygiene kits to children

  • GoalPromote hygiene and water conservation training to 10,000 teachers and community leaders.

     •Result: The total number of beneficiaries trained since the beginning of the project until April 2019 is 8,173 (6106 male, 2067 female).

  • Goal: Host Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) awareness sessions for adolescents and youth in 13 schools.

     •Result: By the end of April, PIN managed to target 13 schools with the MHM sessions            implemented by 17 female teachers/facilitators, reaching around 1,150 young girls.

  • Goal: Organise daily group hand washing routine activity with soap to prevent illness, targeting 15,000 children.

     •Result: Soap distribution to children took place in all targeted schools, the community          mobilisers, with support of the sanitary clubs in each school, showed the children how          to wash their hands properly.

  • Goal: Establish hygiene campaigns and hygiene promotion events in 66 schools, two events per school targeting 20,000 people.

     •Result: PIN organised and conducted 66 events in all targeted schools celebrating World Water Day. The campaign targeted an estimated 15,000 children, and 2,000 community members in 66 schools in the Hawija district.

  • Goal: Create one sanitary club per school composed of children and one teacher.

     •Result: 76 sanitary clubs were established in 76 schools.

Author: People in Need