By: Samer Abdel-Nour
Bourj el-Barajneh

Each morning I would wake up, wash, and head out to my morning class at Najdeh, in Bourj El-Barajneh. The Najdeh youth would were between 12 and 15 years old, and thus, many classes focused on the ideas of dreams, hopes, and realities.

The next class was also in Bourj, but with the Women’s Humanitarian Organization, or WHO. The children at this school were younger, a bit wilder, and would greet me each morning with a rendition of ‘good morning to you…’ sung to the tune of ‘happy birthday’. I’m sure they were tired of it by the end of the summer, but they still sang with smiles on their faces. I would spend my afternoons teaching in Shatila and Sabra, where I taught two days per week each. When I arrived it was always a treat for me. I recall one day when Fatima, an eight year old from Shatila flew down the three flights of stairs, grabbed my hand, and lead me to the class. She made me wait outside the room while she announced to the class that ‘Austaz Samer’ had arrived.

In Sabra, the older children used to fight with the younger children over which class I would teach first, even thought they know that the young ones got me first. Teaching days seemed long when the heat and humidity were factored into the day. After classes, I spent most of my time visiting the families I became close with in the camp. Often I would make two or three social visits per evening, drinking tea, sharing stories, learning history, and just being with the people of the camp. Before bed, which was often quite late, would spend some time preparing for the classes next day… Although each day may have seemed routine, nothing ever was. In any given morning there may not have been electricity, or perhaps something in the news from Palestine depressed the students. Some days the heat and humidity would just simply be unbearable. In the refugee camps of Beirut, everyday was an adventure, with one day almost never like the next.

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