Newspaper Workshop with Syrian Migrant Youth Bekaa-Valley/Lebanon


Approximately 400.000 Syrian refugees live in so-called „informal settlements“ in the Bekaa-Valley in Lebanon. There is no support from the Lebanese government and people are relying on help from local NGOs, as well as UNICEF and UNHCR. One of these NGOs, Beyond Association, focuses on the childrens’ school education. A total of approximately 21.000 Syrian children are being schooled by Beyond, in order to be able to successfully continue education in the Lebanese school system. Arabic, English, math, music and physical education are the main subjects being taught. Older children (between 12 and 14) may also participate in a media-class (i.e. „Press Club).


In this workshop the children will learn the basics of newspaper production: how to find an interesting topic, newswriting, photojournalism and layout will be taught in a manner suitable for children. The project will boost self-confidence in the children who will be able to proudly present their work in the public.

Currently the teens, aged 12 to 14, learn in the so called 'Press Club' of the NGO BEYOND ASSOCIATION how to capture their experiences in handwritten form. They are encouraged to document their daily life with their cameras. These essays are collected in a little album an presented to friends and family. Our aim is to professionalize this process and make the results more sustainable by showing the young journalists how to create their own newspaper.

Before our first editorial meeting the students arrange chairs and tables in a square. This form of communicative seating arrangement has been unknown to them so far. The change is helpful because it strengthens the team spirit and lets pupil and teacher meet on eye level.

Coach István Vélsz (left) explains the stylistic elements of a newspaper cover while teacher Mesiad is translating. Then the students cut out the newspaper's different components to better analyze the structure of the cover and to comprehend the function of layout, text, headlines, photographs and captions.

Mesiad is noting down the results of the voting on the newspaper title. The title 'Our voice' is going to win.

During the editorial meeting the students are gathering their topics that they will later realize and document photographically. Nour is explaining her topic proposal. She wants to portray a 70 year old, who cannot work on the potato fields anymore due to health reasons. and is now earning her money by knitting clothes.

Taghreed, Nour and Waaed are taking the first snaps with their cameras. The students have the task to photograph and write their texts until the next meeting.

Because the students don't know how to type yet, Mesiad is transferring the handwritten texts onto the computer and is importing the pictures.

The adolescents are listening to what István is explaining about the compilation of text and image while Mesiad is translating.

Boys and girls, sitting next to each other, is a matter of course in the Press Club. In their home country Syria classes are usually separated by gender.

Shaymaa and Jamal are gluing their pictures, texts and headlines on the newspaper cover. Therefor they have a printed guideline to orientate on.

Mesiad and István are sitting in front of the improvised tents that are being used as class rooms. They are discussing last changes before the newspaper is going to press.

The first edition of the students' newspaper 'Our voice' is being printed in the copy shop in Zahle.

Self- reliant Hussein and Shaymaa present their newspaper to a Scandinavian delegation. Amongst others the project is a way to convey the children how important their opinions, concerns and feelings are. Beyond Association co-founder Maria is very happy of the first edition of 'Our Voice'.

A refugee is reading the first edition of 'Our Voice' on a tent wall in the refugee camp Omarie. The newspaper is being handed out in the camps and posted in public places.

This is the workshop team ( l. to r.) Mesiad, Ali, Istvan, Jamal, Erol, Hussein and (kneeling) Taghreed and Shaymaa. (Waed and Nour were absent).


Erol Gurian, István Velsz

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