Joyful, bright-eyed, and brimming with hope for the future. These are just a few words that describe 9-year-old Yousef.
Despite having to overcome several challenges at a young age, his optimism shines brightly. Yousef was an infant when his family fled their home in Syria and settled in Lebanon. As he grew, his education was postponed because his parents could not afford to enroll him in school. Despite these obstacles, this aspiring pilot continues to dream big.
In Lebanon, Luminos works closely with two community-based organizations, reaching more than 7,000 children like Yousef to date — providing a safe, welcoming environment where students can catch up on foundational skills and develop their full potential.
After successfully completing the Luminos catch-up program, Yousef transitioned into public school to continue his education.
“Education is important because it helps me in the future to get a job and be an independent and effective member in society.”
Yousef, Luminos alum
“Education is important because it helps me in the future to get a job and be an independent and effective member in society,” Yousef says. “I want to reach university level and get a degree in aviation.”
Yousef with his mother, Watfa. (Photo: Chris Trinh for the Luminos Fund)
But Yousef’s path to lifelong learning — and aviation — is not an easy one. As a result of teacher protests over salaries, public schools in Lebanon have faced significant disruptions and closures. The country has endured a series of ongoing social, economic, political, and health crises in the past few years, which have created a dire situation for children, especially the Syrian refugee children Luminos serves. Due to a nationwide economic crisis, prices of basic goods have skyrocketed, and many families have limited access to electricity, which substantially restricts the delivery of basic services.
“Life has become hard and complicated,” says Yousef’s mother, Watfa. “The electricity and many other problems made Yousef feel sad. I am worried about everything, especially not being able to afford my children’s basic necessities.”
Today, through an additional Luminos program, Yousef is receiving homework support for math and English (English is one of the two standard languages of instruction in Lebanon). His motivation for learning grows more and more each day.
“I love my classmates and my teachers,” says Yousef. “After classes, I usually revise my lessons and then I get ready to go to the public school in the afternoon schedule.”
Colorful posters and letters of the alphabet decorate classrooms in Lebanon. (Photo: Chris Trinh for the Luminos Fund)
According to his teacher, Amal, Yousef has shown significant improvements and is thriving as a self-confident, intrinsic learner.
“Yousef usually interacts with the pictures shown in stories and connects them with his surroundings. He has proved to be an independent learner. He answers and solves the questions individually,” says Amal.
By providing a safe and nurturing space to learn, Luminos programs help mitigate the devastating impact of compounded crises and school closures.
Beyond learning, our classrooms offer a sense of stability and hope — not only for our students, but their teachers and parents, too.
“Hope has motivated us to curb pessimism. This hope is reflected in the students’ faces. When we see the learners’ diligence and interest in discovering knowledge, our confidence in the coming days is boosted.”
Amal, Luminos teacher