The Words of Three Mothers

It’s International Women’s Day! On this occasion, we heed the words of three women: Dalia, Hiam, and Nadwa, as they discuss the impact of the coronavirus, the financial crisis, and online education on them and their families.

Interview with Dahlia Khalifeh, the mother of Karim (grade 8) taught by fellow Hasan Ghaddar and Yasmina (grade 6) taught by fellows Malak Ajram and Zeinab Gharieb at the Al-Haidareya school in Sarafand.

How has Covid-19 affected you and your family?
Social distancing has limited our interactions with extended family and friends. In an Arab community where close relationships tend to be quite physical, this has been harsh. Many people have suffered abuse in their homes due to the situation. However, this has also been a good thing for many people, including myself. It has strengthened the bonds between myself, my husband, and my children, and it has helped us invent new pastimes and pushed us to cook and try out new food.

What are your thoughts about the economic state of the country and how have you adapted to it, if you’ve changed anything at all?
The economic state of Lebanon has been deteriorating for over a year. We have reached a point at which we are only able to acquire our absolute necessities, and even this is hard. Many of these basic necessities are becoming unaffordable, and some of them, including medications and food products like sugar and vegetable oil, are becoming hard to find or even disappearing. It will take time and patience for us to acclimatize to the current situation. It’s especially difficult for those who, like myself, would do anything to get their children what they’re asking for

What hardships have you faced while securing online education for your children, and what are your thoughts about the current prevalence of online education?
Online education is a great idea in itself but it needs support from both the school and the household. Children often have trouble understanding online lessons, and when their parents are unable to help them they are forced to hire teachers to do so. In my opinion, a classroom is better for a child. It allows the child to interact with other people, form new ideas, and engage in discussions. All of this builds a student’s personality more than sitting behind a screen all day. Hopefully we get to return to our normal lives when the coronavirus is finally out of the way.

Interview with Mrs. Nadwa Hussein, a teacher and mother of Lana (grade 5) and Enass (grade 8) taught by fellows Zeinab Gharieb, Hasan Ghaddar and Malak Ajram at Al-Haidareya School in Sarafand.

How did the pandemic, the lockdown, and the Lebanese financial crisis affect your life and that of your family? 
Fortunately I’ve been able to manage my time, take care of my family, and do my job as a teacher. 

In your opinion, what sacrifices have these issues caused women at home to make?
I’ve had to sacrifice a lot, not least by limiting interactions with friends and family at the expense of my mental health.

In one word, how would you describe women?
Women are sacrificers.

Interview with Mrs. Hiam Gharib, mother of Zainab (grade 4) and Ahmad (grade 2) attending Al-Imam Ali School.

How did the pandemic, the lockdown, and the Lebanese financial crisis affect your life and that of your family? 
The situation has been tough, and I’ve had to work hard. On top of household chores and cooking, I’ve had to teach my children. Sometimes the pressure was so great that I forgot to take care of myself. 

In your opinion, what sacrifices have these issues caused women at home to make?
On top of the responsibilities of mothers and housewives, they have also assumed those that would normally fall to the school. Women are happy when their family is happy, and sad when it is sad, so in these difficult times they must work especially hard to keep their families and themselves happy.

In one word, how would you describe women?
A woman is strong, like a mountain.