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Lebanon: Back to school for Syrian refugee children
06 September 2017
"I want to be a civil engineer, I want to help to reconstruct my country," says 13-year-old Farouq*, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. He missed years of school when his family fled to Lebanon to escape the war, making his dream of becoming a civil engineer seem impossible.
But thanks to the support and prayers of people like you, Farouq is now attending a school being run by a church in east Lebanon with support from Open Doors partners. He says, "Before I came to this school, I was doing nothing the whole day. I was angry that I couldn't go to school. I like mathematics most. I was several years out of school, so I am very happy that I can go here now. I think it's very important to help us find out what we want to do with our lives. School is important for our future."
The church has started the school in the basement of their building, providing education for 270 children. The church has also opened two community centres close to the refugee camps where many Syrian families are living; one of the centres is providing education for 160 children, and the other is providing education for 120 children. They accept children of all faith backgrounds.
Haleh*, an 11-year-old girl from Aleppo who attends the school, said, "I was so happy when my mother said that I was accepted at school. I love Arabic and Mathematics."
Wafa* (eight years old) used to live close to Homs. "I was bored," he said of the time before he joined the school. "I can already read Arabic, and I love the story of Daniel and the lions' den."
A staff member at the church says, "Imagine, many Syrian children came to Lebanon when they were five or six years old. Some didn't begin their education until they were 10 or 11. We're taking education seriously. Many of the children who are leaving our school after the fifth grade are doing very well. We are not allowed to give certificates, but we have an agreement with another school. They accept our children after fifth grade. That way they will have the official certificate."
Hadil* is one of the teachers of the school run by the church. She herself is Syrian. "The children of my people needed teachers," she said. "Everything we plant in a child will have a great impact on their future. I really hope and believe that we can offer these children a better future. I hope they will receive long-term education."
Faizan*, another of the teachers serving at the school, said, "I love to work here. We teach the children the different subjects: Arabic, English, mathematics, etc. We also teach them how to love and respect each other, how to behave, how to work towards a bright future. It's not just about reading and writing."
Through local partners, Open Doors is providing food and other vital aid for 700 Syrian families in Lebanon, and education for 600 Syrian children.
BRING HOPE TO THE MIDDLE EAST
In Syria, the war rages on, and Christians continue to be a target for Islamic extremists. While the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) have largely been driven out of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain in Iraq, they have left terrible devastation behind them.
Incredibly, there are Christians who are choosing to stay in the Middle East, the birth place of Christianity, because they believe that God has called them to shine as lights in the darkest of days. Young people like Farouq long to return and help to rebuild their countries.
But this won't happen overnight. This is why the global Hope for the Middle East campaign is a seven-year campaign. Your support is keeping hope alive for thousands of families in Iraq and Syria, as well as refugees in surrounding nations like the children in this story, and we must continue to walk with them for as long as they need us. Here are four things you can do to support your persecuted brothers and sisters:
- Pray. Pray for Farouq, Haleh and Wafa, and the other children in the school, that God would provide for all their needs and make a way for them to return to a safe and peaceful Syria. Pray for teachers like Faizan and Hadil, that God will use them to bless the young people they serve and equip them for the future.
- Give. Every £42 could provide a month's emergency food supplies for a displaced family in Syria.
- Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, calling for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq. Ask others to sign it too.
- Tell your church. Order a free Rebuild Hope pack, full of ideas and resources to help everyone in your church, of any age, to connect with their church family in the Middle East.
*names changed for security reasons