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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs