On Wednesday, October 26, Russian jets dropped bombs on the town of Hass, south of the countryside of the Idleb province. The attack was sudden. Bombs struck a complex of schools. No escape was allowed for the 22 school children and their 6 teachers, who were murdered in cold blood. The wounded were rushed to the area’s hospitals, while airstrikes continued to take the lives of first responders and other residents in the area.

It is amid these dire conditions that Syrians are attempting to live their lives, raise their families, build their communities, work, educate and learn. The unpredictable nature of the war and the destructive, reckless actions of the Syrian regime and its allies make the most basic aspects of living seem like unattainable goals. It is only natural for the sense of frustration and powerlessness that accompanies the constant loss of lives and assets to be overwhelming. Witnessing the events in Hass, which are echoed all around the country, it only seems fair to ask: What is the use of building schools, roads, hospitals, and businesses when all that’s built could be destroyed in a blink of an eye?

It should be remarkable to realize, then, that with Tamkeen’s aid alone, and within the past few months only, hundreds of projects were designed and implemented by local communities across Syria. New and returning services were offered to the public during Tamkeen’s fourth cycle. Schools were indeed built. Hospitals too. Roads were paved, and electric and water networks restored and expanded. Despite the harsh environment, Syrians are determined to build and rebuild, as if facing devastation with creation, adversity with hope.

Bold determination and a rich love for life prompt communities like Hass to not yield under the terror of the regime’s war machine. While Syrian and Russian jets pounded the town, destroying families forever by targeting their most innocent and vulnerable members, younger children were still receiving education at the Alwan (Arabic for “colors”) Preschool. The preschool was established earlier this year by a group of volunteer educators and activists, most of whom were women. The volunteers aimed to provide education and psychosocial support to around 80 children who attended the preschool. But, with little to no official support for their project, its means and resources remained humble.

With the launch of Tamkeen’s fourth cycle in March of 2016, the local community in Hass requested support for the Alwan Preschool from the programme. The members of the Tamkeen Women Subcommittee in Hass took lead of a project to provide material and financial support to the preschool. They put together a proposal for a project budgeted at around $7,600. The facility, equipped with 3 classrooms and an activity room, was set to be provided with educational toys and materials. And members of the administrative and teaching staff who previously were volunteering their time and efforts were set to be provided with monthly salaries. Additionally, rent for the facility was to be provided as part of the project, and the WSC was to contract a driver and a bus to offer transportation for students.

Within a few months of the programme approving the proposal, and under the supervision of the WSC, the project was completed. Members of the Tamkeen Women Subcommittee and the Tamkeen team in Hass are proud to share with you images from daily lives of preschoolers at Alwan, and a news report on the preschool published by the Syrian television channel, Jisr. The smiles on children’s faces as they play and learn only bolster the determination of the local community to push through the hardships of war, and continue to prosper despite all odds.