Empowering the Teens of Bourj Hammoud

Aug 17, 2023

A Look into Manara Youth Center’s Tutoring Program

We would like to introduce you to Mia, one of our tutors at YFC Lebanon’s Manara Youth Center in Bourj Hammoud. Mia is currently the Educational Coordinator of the center with a master’s degree in neuroscience. Mia works closely with teens. She provides guidance, clarifies concepts, and helps with homework and test preparations. 

Pointing Teens to a Brighter Future

“My students are leading difficult lives,” Mia shared, “So, sometimes, they lose their motivation. They feel as though studying will lead them nowhere. But I care about them. I want them to know that it will lead them somewhere! I know they are not privileged. So, I always motivate them to keep pushing forward. When I see them doing well academically, I feel proud—I am happy they are focused and responsible. I feel like I did my part.”

Since 2018, the center has been offering a safe and welcoming environment where students receive personalized assistance in various subjects, helping them improve their academic performance. Chloe* is one example. Chloe was repeating Grade 10 when she joined Mia’s tutoring classes. She started working on herself and studying a lot. Last year, she passed Grade 10. Mia shared, “I noticed her huge progress, and today, she still maintains good grades.”

Helping Teens with School Tuition

Aside from in-class tutoring, every tutor at the center oversees a project. Mia takes care of the scholarship program. The center offers partial scholarships to teens based on their academic progress and commitment. Students who obtain scholarships help with tutoring or other activities in the center for up to ten hours per year. It is not much, but it helps students nurture a sense of responsibility. Here is the story of Malek as told by Mia:

I have been tutoring Malek* since I first came here. Then, during my second year at the center, he told me he couldn’t register for school. He just wanted to be tutored to get as much education as possible. When I asked why, he said his parents did not want him to. I didn’t fully understand, so I followed up with his parents and discovered it was a money problem. So I included him in our scholarship program. 

This year, he is in Grade 9. He put in much effort, and his academic progress has been stunning. He initially considered dropping out and attending a vocational school, but I encouraged him to finish Grade 9. This summer, he told me that he would be doing Grade 10. He would be continuing his education and getting a university degree.

Helping Teens Become “Ambassadors of Peace”

Mia also helps with the center’s “Ambassadors of Peace” program, which brings together teens from various ethnic and religious backgrounds. Teens learn to build bridges and seek healthy dialogue to be a new generation that fosters a culture of peace and works together for the common good. This is paramount in the underprivileged, multicultural mosaic of Burj Hammoud, as youth clashes are a usual sight on the streets of this Beirut suburb.  

During the five sessions of each cycle, teens learn ten dialogue guidelines. Tutors act as facilitators, helping students voice their beliefs and opinions and then discuss them respectfully. After the sessions, they carry out a social action. For example, a group of primarily Syrian teens decided to help Lebanese people in one social action this year. As a result, they went to a home for the elderly and helped repaint its walls and clean it. 

Mia shared that her experience with “Ambassadors of Peace” has been enlightening. She has better tapped into her students’ struggles and formed more profound relationships with them. Mia shared, “When they get close to and trust us, they want to know the reason for our hope. Sometimes, students come to me asking for prayer. Sometimes, they share deeper mental issues that require our counselor’s intervention. But, in all cases, I am grateful for every opportunity to be a good influence.”

We pray that MYC’s academic program will take teens to a place where they can stand firm on their own. Things are getting more problematic with the increasing tuition and the deteriorating economic situation in the country. Teens in Lebanon are finding it harder to access quality education. But we trust that God is able to give them the strength and determination to go on despite all obstacles. We pray that He constantly uses Manara Youth Center to speak His hope and truth into the lives of young people.