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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid