we aim at actively protecting childhood, by respecting age-appropriate life and development
conditions and making this the base of the pedagogic daily routine.



Outside Lebanon, Shatila is probably the best known of all the Palestinian camps because of the 1982 massacre in which an estimated 2400 people were killed. The camp, a long-term refugee camp for Palestinian refugees, set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1949, is situated in a poor area of Beirut that was badly damaged during the civil war.

Originally hosting hundreds of refugees, it has grown to more than 12,000 registered Palestinian refugees. Many of these refugees may live outside the camp, while non-Palestinians also live in the camp. The entire camp comprises approximately one square kilometer and thus has an exceptionally high population density. The crisis in Syria continues to take a devastating toll on the civilian population in Lebanon. The large influx of Palestinian refugees from Syria and Syrian refugees into Palestinian communities in Lebanon has sparked heavy competition in the camps and gatherings. Officially Shatila itself has grown to 22,000 inhabitants, most probably the actual numbers are close to 30,000 people.

Much of the camp and surrounding area are still in ruins, making it difficult to identify the official camp boundaries. Some of the shelters in and around Shatila appear to be worse than any found in the other official camps in Lebanon. These small shelters constructed from slabs of concrete, pieces of cardboard, corrugated iron and plastic sheets appear temporarily although people have lived in them for many years. Since at least the mid 1990s it has been recognized that only about half of the population of Shatila is Palestinian, the rest are from other Arab countries, mainly Syria and Lebanon.


The tragedy of the explosion in the port of Beirut on 4 August in 2020 has serious consequences in many respects, which have a direct impact on the living conditions and physical and mental health of those affected. The needs of men, women, children, Lebanese, refugees and displaced persons threaten to increase exponentially in the coming months and years, especially as Lebanon has been hit by a severe economic crisis and the COVID-19 crisis, which has already put a heavy strain on people’s mental health. Children especially show behavioral changes or signs of trauma or extreme stress after the explosions. Especially in the directly affected areas such as Karantina. The predominantly low-income, mixed-use residential, commercial and semi-industrial district is located in northeastern Beirut and is located east of the port of Beirut. It is a neighborhood inhabited by communities with different ethnic-religious backgrounds, including Christians, Muslims and Armenians. Karantina experienced intense political conflicts during the Lebanese civil war, which left a strong mark on the social fabric of the neighborhood.



The kindergarten is open to all children living in Shatila, giving them a safe space for learning and simply being a child on a continuous, reliable basis, and a  future of possibility and hope. The appropriate and culturally sensitive humanitarian assistance is providing a foundation for sustainable development by actively involving the target group in the planning, implementation and management process.
To achieve the biggest benefits for the children, the kindergarten educators are strongly relying on the help of the parents. Such a collaboration includes parent-teacher conferences, courses and lectures.  The kindergarten is not only open to all children living in Beirut’s Shatila Camp, but also children with special needs are, if possible, welcome in our kindergarten. Currently Bait al-Shams hosts three groups with 20 children,  each  lead by two qualified educators.

With our work we aim at actively protecting childhood, by respecting age- appropriate life and development conditions and making this the base of the pedagogic daily routine.  In this daily routine of the group, “good habits” are initiated and cultivated according to the need of the children for rhythm and repetition of similar actions and experiences.

The competencies in language (Bait al-Shams is a bilingual kindergarten using Arabic as well as English), movement, playing, learning, and social skills that need to be achieved by entering school are supported on a permanent basis through the composition of every day life. In the year before entering school special projects are being offered for the future school children. If possible we seek a cooperation with the schools to ensure a smooth entry for the children. It should be mentioned though, that this kindergarten does not aim to be a school, but a place where children are allowed to gain their first experiences outside their families in a secure environment.

In our educational approach, teaching is by example rather than by direct instruction and is integrated rather than subject based. In recognition of its vital role in early education, children are given time to play. Emphasis is given to regular patterns of activities both within the day and over each week. The child presents a particular set of physical, emotional and intellectual characteristics which require a particular (empathetic) educational response in return. In Bait al-Shams we consider the first seven years as the period of greatest physical growth and development. At this time the young child’s primary mode of learning is through doing and experiencing – he or she “thinks” with the entire physical being.

The nature of this learning should be self-motivated, allowing the child to come to know the world in the way most appropriate to his or her age – through active feeling, touching, exploring and imitating, in other words, through doing. Children are encouraged to master physical skills before abstract intellectual ones.

Our Impact | Just.Childhood