Photo: War Child ambassador Michaela DePrince visiting the Handicap Forum in Lebanon.

Pop idol Madonna is to film her life story. She previously danced in a music video for Beyoncé. And that’s not all: she’s also an ambassador for War Child. It was especially for War Child that National Ballet dancer Michaela DePrince (23) visited Syrian and Lebanese children who are taught at our ‘Back to the Future’ schools in Lebanon.

More than a million refugees

Lebanon has been suffering from the ongoing eight-year conflict in Syria. The official reading is that there are 1.1 million refugees from Syria living in the country, with a population of only about 4 million Lebanese. Many children have built up a huge learning deficit due to the years of war.

We are giving them a helping hand and provide extra lessons in language, arithmetic and reading. We help these children with their homework and help them catch up.

The visit to the country did not leave Michaela unmoved. She kept a diary for Elle.nl. Michaela: ‘Being here means a lot to me. I myself am a war child from Sierra Leone (…) As an ambassador of War Child I want to give as many children as possible a better future. Even though you’ve experienced terrible things, I’m sure it’s possible to chase your dreams.’

Dancing

Crossed legs, jumps to the right and left and a lot of stamping on the floor, that’s what the traditional Arabic Dabke dance is known for. Dabke is danced en masse at parties in Lebanon and neighbouring countries. That explains why our ‘Back to the Future’ students wanted to show Michaela how this dance should be performed and invited her to join in with them. Dozens of Syrian and Lebanese families had come to our education centre in the Handicap Forum in Tripoli especially to dance the Dabke with Michaela.

Michaela to Elle: ‘Dancing creates a connection between children, but also between children and their emotions. It’s an ideal outlet because it provides fun and a way of letting off steam. You don’t always have to talk; sometimes it works better to approach your experiences creatively.’

Read the entire diary report Michaela kept for Elle here