At 34 years of age, Mona had already lost two children prematurely - a genetic disorder means she is at high risk of miscarrying. “Unfortunately, I cannot access the treatment I need in Lebanon,” she says. “I have no chance of having a child while I’m here. That’s why I’m raising Bashir as my own.”
As we sit cross-legged on the floor of their tarpaulin-draped tent, Bashir reveals that he enjoys playing soccer and video games with his Lebanese neighbour who is the same age, before Mona returns with fruit juice prepared for us to share - a simple act of human kindness.
She reminisces about her former life as a primary school art teacher in Syria, and how shortly after leaving the country in 2013, she learned that her school had been destroyed. Mona does not know what became of the children she once taught. But one thing she is sure of, she will never forget their names and faces.
Her knowledge and skills are still being put to good use. Up until last year, Mona volunteered with Concern to teach art classes in the nearby settlements. Along with psychosocial support and child-friendly spaces provided by Concern, the art sessions were an effective way to help children deal with the psychological effects of trauma.