A mother’s dedication to her daughters’ education

 Nadine, Lama and Samira welcomed Malala Yousafzai and Tim Cook to Lebanon earlier this year. (Courtesy of Apple)

Nadine, Lama and Samira welcomed Malala Yousafzai and Tim Cook to Lebanon earlier this year. (Courtesy of Apple)

Conflict in Lebanon forced Rima out of school in fifth grade. Now, she’s making sure her three daughters don’t suffer the same fate.

Rima’s daughters gave her a lot to be proud of this year: 15-year-old Nadine successfully passed the national Lebanese education exam, 16-year-old Lama received great marks in her first high school year and 18-year-old Samira graduated from high school at the top of her class.

Rima does not take these accomplishments for granted. As a single parent in Lebanon, Rima has worked long and hard so that her daughters could accomplish what she did not.

Conflict cut Rima’s education short — she didn’t graduate from fifth grade. “I did not have the chance to learn and this was very painful to me,” said Rima. She is determined to see her daughters complete their secondary education: “Education is their real weapon. I want them to continue studying and be self-sufficient.” Rima knows that education can “open opportunities” and help them to “find interesting jobs.”

Samira, the oldest of the three daughters, is already on her way to securing meaningful employment and achieving her mother’s dream. This past summer, she started interning at Lebanese Alternative Learning (LAL), a nonprofit that develops alternative educational resources through technology and creative interventions. Samira’s responsibilities included helping to proofread and edit Arabic content.

Education is their real weapon. I want them to continue studying and be self-sufficient.
— Rima

Nayla Fahed, Malala Fund Gulmakai Champion and president of LAL, says Samira has been an important addition to the team: “Her success story — coming from a very challenged background and successfully finishing school and now able to help other by producing content — is very inspiring to other interns.”

Before beginning her internship, Samira participated in LAL’s programmes as a student. She used Tabshoura in a Box, an e-learning platform developed by LAL to support Lebanese students and Syrian refugees students. Tabshoura in a Box teaches students problem solving, reasoning and communication in order to develop critical thinking skills. “We loved using the platform,” said Samira. “It helped us understand better what we have learned in class and be ready for exams.”

In January, LAL joined Rima and her daughters in welcoming Malala Yousafzai, Tim Cook and Lisa Jackson of Apple to Lebanon. They described the experience as “life-changing.” They were moved by their guests’ support of girls’ education and how they overcame adversity in their own lives. “This made me understand that I can be important even if I come from a very modest background,” said Samira.

Thanks to support from her LAL internship, Samira recently enrolled in university to study business. Her favourite subjects are math and economics — she hopes to pursue a career in banking one day.

Samira recognises that her academic success is only possible because of Rima’s selfless support of the family. “She sacrificed her life for us to get education,” said Samira, getting emotional. “I hope we will soon be able to help her.”

Thank you to Nayla Fahed, Malala Fund Gulmakai Champion and president of Lebanese Alternative Learning, for connecting us with Rima, Samira, Nadine and Lama. Malala Fund supports the work of education activists like Nayla who are breaking down barriers to girls’ education in their communities.


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About the author

Bianca He is an editorial intern at Malala Fund. In her free time, she reads, hikes and craves for bubble tea.