Hundreds of displaced Syrian children in Lebanon are now able to attend school with support from an Open Doors partner as the school year begins.
A church in east Lebanon has been able to start a school in the basement of their building with support from an Open Doors partner, 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."
Farouq* (13) said, "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. I want to be a civil engineer, I want to help to reconstruct my country."
Photos of children in school, larger file sizes available – faces not shown for security reasons:
"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," said a staff member at the church. "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. 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.
Open Doors also works through local partners to support thousands of families within Syria itself; in 2016, Open Doors partners supported 15,500 families with food packs and hygiene kits, alongside long-term projects such as repairing homes and helping to start small businesses.
Open Doors has launched the Hope for the Middle East campaign, a global, seven-year campaign mobilising people around the world to stand with the church in Syria and Iraq. As part of this, Open Doors is asking people to sign the Hope for the Middle East petition, which will be presented to the UN on 11 December 2017.
*names changed for security reasons
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Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.
Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List - a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life - plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.
Syria is number 6 on the 2017 Open Doors World Watch List. Lebanon is not on the list.