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Transformed Lives: Learning To Love Tea Parties

Imaginary tea parties and pastry baking, feeding the dolls and cleaning up afterwards, imaginary house chores and dressing up – basically every young girl’s busy to-do-list. The problem arises how-ever, when these to-do-lists cease to be imaginary; when the cooking and the cleaning become a young girl’s actual job.

This is the daily reality of Batoul*, an eight-year-old in grade two. Batoul does not enjoy pretend games, having tea parties nor playing with dolls. Not even homework is her top priority. You see, Batoul has to rush home to take care of her baby brother every day. She cooks, she cleans, and she feeds him, and she does it all silently. This eight-year-old is not one to complain. When asked about her responsibilities she stiffens her shoulder, lowers her voice and avoids eye contact at all costs. No matter how much you ask her, she will not share about her brother, about how much she misses her absent mother or about how she was forced to take her place. In a classroom filled with eight-year-olds, she was the only adult.

Her teachers started complaining when Batoul started disciplining her fellow classmates. Forced to be an adult at home, she felt responsible for breaking up fights, separating the students and slapping them in punishment. When anyone would mess up, she would be the first to issue aggressive measures. That was when SKILD was invited to help.

SKILD assessed her case, and after thorough testing, they realized that she was just a little girl who had too much responsibility on her plate. Aggression was simply all she knew. Lama her Psychologist shared: “We decided to give her the space she lacked, to be a kid again through our activities”. SKILD reintroduced her to a tea party set, dolls and coloring pencils. Although they couldn’t give her her childhood back, they gave her time to be a child again. With time Batoul’s aggression faded and she learned to smile again. The weight of the world seemed to be lifted from her narrow shoulders, and she could stand straight again, a tall-for-her age eight-year-old.

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Emily Hoppin

A native from the state of Colorado, USA, Emily first came to Lebanon in 2016 to volunteer teach at a summer English camp for refugees hosted by one of LSESD’s partner churches in Zahle. Upon arriving in Lebanon, she immediately fell in love with the country and knew that she was destined to come back for the long term. After completing her master’s degree in Linguistics at the Free University of Berlin, Emily was finally able to realize her dream of moving to Lebanon. In August 2019, Emily Hoppin joined the LSESD team as its Communications Officer. “Working at LSESD is like putting that missing piece into a puzzle. For the first time in my life, everything fits,” she states. With a knack for languages, writing, and connecting with people, Emily feels as though all of her skills, talents, and passions have finally come together in one place through her work at LSESD. Just as her first name means “industrious”, Emily believes in hard work and perseverance. Allowing Colossians 3:23 to guide her work ethic, Emily seeks to serve the Lord in her role at LSESD with all of her heart, mind, soul, and strength.

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