By: Kathy Ramsey

For me, being here has been an overwhelming experience. I have been astounded by the generosity of the people I’ve met, the sad stories they have about all the problems they face here in Lebanon and the dreams they all have to go back to Palestine. As volunteers teaching a few hours (or many more!!) of English a day and playing games with the kids, it initially felt like we were doing so little for these wonderful people considering all the obstacles stacked against them. My second week here I remember thinking how can I do anything to ‘help’ the youth pass their all important exams next year when I am only here for 2 months and there is so much work to be done? I began to doubt if I could really make any difference, even small, in their lives. And then I asked the kids to write about themselves and their hopes and dreams so that I could take their writings back to Canada for people there to learn about them and their lives. I can’t describe the looks on their faces any other way than to use the cliche of ‘absolute joy’. They really were so happy that people in Canada would be interested to learn about them AND that they were being given the opportunity to share their stories with the outside world. The students worked so hard on their writings that you could have heard a pin drop in the class it was so quiet – that is really something unusual! I really had to force myself not to cry as I watched them hard at work. The results of their work are really amazing. These are all very special and unique children and youth – there is no way to stop yourself from loving all of them. Their lives will not change because of me or CEPAL but for 2 months this summmer these kids had an opportunity to have fun and learn that they otherwise would not have had. I know it means alot to them and also to me, for having had the chance to meet and get to know them.

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