What challenges do Syrian refugees meet? And how can they be resolved with limited resources? These were some of the questions we had to deal with at the summer school in Beirut that I took part in.
I spent my summer in the vibrant city of Beirut, participating in a three weeks program, Engineering for humanitarian health challenges at the American University of Beirut.
Reaching an unprecedented level of over one million registered refugees within the boarders, Lebanon hosts the second-largest population of Syrian refugees in the region. The program works in the context of the humanitarian crises of the Syrian refugees, targeting students from multiplied backgrounds interested in combining innovation and global health challenges.
In the program, we had four visits in the informal refuge settlement of Beqaa Valley, interviewing and identifying problems in the settlement. Families in the settlement had different stories and different ways of dealing with the situation, making a face and story behind the number of a million.
The field visits were a unique learning experience for me both academically and personally, and some of the most valuable things I learned during the visits was how to really listen without letting my pre-made mind interpret the answer and the importance of digging deep in order understand the root of the problem.
Some of the major problems we identified in the settlement were education, water, chronic illness and lack of health system. My team and I focused on the quality of the water and ended up with an idea to clean the contaminated water in the settlement through a filtration system made in a pipe.
During the process we had good support from all the professors and the staff, helping us step by step to analyze the data, design and develop our prototype as well as how to pitch the idea.
The program was an amazing journey and a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience, learn and work with students from interdisciplinary backgrounds, travel and experience beautiful Beirut.
You can hear more about Anne Christine Abrahamsen’s experiences from summer school at the Global health seminar on 5 September 2018.
Are you interested in attending this course or similar courses next summer? Please contact Global Health adviser Elin Yli Dvergsdal.