Samer is a typical 9-year-old but, as a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, life can be tough. Discover how Mary’s Meals gives him hope for the future.

Like most boys his age, Samer, 9, likes playing football with his friends. But, as a Syrian refugee, he has already lived through more trauma and upheaval than many of us will experience in a lifetime.

Samer and his family fled their home to escape the brutal civil war that is tearing their country apart. They now live in the Bourj el-Barajneh refugee settlement on the outskirts of Beirut.

Huge numbers of desperate Syrians have flocked to Lebanon in search of safety. It is one of the largest concentrations of refugees anywhere in the world and, like many new arrivals, Samer and his family face a hard life in their adopted country.

He has two brothers and a sister. “I am the oldest and I take care of them,” he says.

Samer’s dad earns a little money buying second hand washing machines which he fixes up and then sells on – but life in Lebanon is tough.

“My home is small, two rooms only,” Samer explains. “My house in Syria had six rooms and we had a playground there. Here we play on the street.”

For Samer, lessons at the informal education centre established within the Bourj el-Barajneh refugee settlement are a welcome distraction.

“I like to play at school and at the same time I learn,” he says. “I like to learn new things. My favorite subject is Arabic.”

The majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in poverty, so the healthy sandwich wraps served by Mary’s Meals every school day make a big difference to Samer and his classmates.

“I like the food I receive at school, especially the fruit”, he says. “I like the cheese sandwich. My friends in class like the food too.”

Samer is just one of more than 1,400 refugee children and their Lebanese classmates who are finding hope in the classroom thanks to the promise of Mary’s Meals.

“In the future, I hope to go back to Syria,” he says. “One day I will open an electrical shop in Syria.”