News / Africa

Libyan Children Struggle to Cope With Conflict

The few classes that are in session are light on studying, Benghazi (File Photo - June 26, 2011)
The few classes that are in session are light on studying, Benghazi (File Photo - June 26, 2011)

Multimedia

Elizabeth Arrott

War's effects are often hardest on children, and the conflict in Libya is proving no exception. In this rebel stronghold, efforts are being made to help children cope.

Life in camps

A group of children play a pick-up match of football at the end of small drive. They shout, scramble for the ball, shove a bit harder than strictly necessary - in other words, a normal scene.  What's unusual is that these children are living in a refugee camp, having fled government attacks in their home towns.

Children play outside their grafitti-covered school yard, closed for months after the uprising, Benghazi (File Photo - June 26, 2011)
Children play outside their grafitti-covered school yard, closed for months after the uprising, Benghazi (File Photo - June 26, 2011)

The Red Crescent's Marei Abdel Salam el Jeouda is a director at the camp and remarks on the progress toward normalcy the children have made.

He remembers what it was like when the children came a few months ago and counselors encouraged them to draw what they had seen. The results were missiles, fighter planes, destroyed houses. Slowly that changed. Now, he says, they draw nature - the trees and the sea.

Lifes on hold

The children at the camp have come from farther west, and while they can play with ease, they know they are not likely to go home soon.

Even for children who have always lived in Benghazi, with its now relative calm, life, in some ways, is also on hold.

Schools were closed at the beginning of the uprising, leaving students without structure and with plenty of time to dwell on the fighting around them. In recent weeks, a few schools have begun to reopen, with the hope of filling the void.

Schooling

At a school in the Garden City district of the rebel capital, some of the students have returned for a few hours of classes. But not all are ready to come back. Hussein Mohamed al Awami is a former headmaster who came out of retirement to help.

Libyan girls in traditional dress, Benghazi (File Photo - June 25, 2011)
Libyan girls in traditional dress, Benghazi (File Photo - June 25, 2011)

He says some parents are keeping their children at home, worried for their safety because of the continued shootings and other disturbances in the city.  For those who do come, the classes are limited.  Arts and crafts seem to be the order of the day.

In one classroom, a teacher demonstrates how to make a box out of old CD's.  In another, the instructors pass out pencils and the children begin to draw. It may not be academically intensive, but it keeps them busy.

Gadhafi's curriculum

It also provides a clean break from the education system put in place by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi which, like many things in the country, highlighted the man and his works. Elementary student Yasser sits outside on a park swing, recalling his classes before the uprising.

The ten-year-old says he studied social science, especially housing and building projects. He adds he didn't learn very much. Nearby, Adel, a father of two boys, explains what high school was like for him, with the compulsory teaching of Gadhafi's manifesto, the Green Book.

"If you are told that you have to learn that 'a hen lays eggs and a rooster doesn't' - this is a funny sentence to say, you know, in this day and age," he said. "Everybody can say these kinds of things and you don't have to be a great thinker to say them."

Given such questionable profundities, Adel says that he doesn't mind that his children's studies are disrupted. Among the many things he hopes for if Gadhafi leaves are new textbooks.

"Some of the things that we have to learn, if you tell them to anybody outside of Libya, he will laugh at you, he will think that the guy's crazy, you know," added Adel. "We had learn to learn stuff against the normal, human thinking."

Back over on the swing, young Yasser agrees. He says he just wants to study math.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More