As a result of the Syrian civil war, many Syrian children have been deprived of an education. The violence in Syria is not only causing the destruction of bridges, roads and buildings, but it is also the cause of educational gaps that put the future of young innocent children in jeopardy.
According to figures released by the UNHCR four years into the Syrian crisis, 2.2 out of 4.8 million children in Syria are not in school. This is mainly due to the destruction of schools or their conversion into shelters. The education of refugee children in foreign countries has also been affected, with more than half a million refugee children out of school. Five years after the release of these figures, and the crisis has only gotten worse.
When refugee families resettle in a host country like Lebanon, their primary concern is to attain immediate needs for survival. More often than not, refugee parents have no other choice but to prioritize food, water and shelter above the education of their kids. This produces a generation of illiterate refugee children who are deprived of a proper education. Instead, young girls stay at home and help their mothers with housework while their brothers are sent out to work odd jobs for meager pay.
Though illegal, child employment among Syrian refugees is on the rise in Lebanon.
The reality is, thousands of Syrian refugee children are growing up vulnerable to radical indoctrination. Rather than being exposed to mathematical problems and scientific experiments, these children are exposed to exploitation and corruption.
In Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, young boys and girls are working the fields under the blazing sun in return for $4 a day. As for the children who are unable to find jobs, they are often exploited by gangs and forced to beg on the streets of Beirut. Worst of all, these children are exposed to hate speech and are filled with anger and frustration at the world they live in.
But in the midst of all this brokenness, Jesus calls us to be his hands and feet so that the brokenhearted can see his loving face and compassionate heart. As a faith-based non-profit organization, Heart for Lebanon exists to answer this very calling.
At Heart for Lebanon, we work on prevention rather then recovery of children. One way we do this is through the value of education. We invest in the knowledge of young Syrian refugee children at our non-formal Hope educational centers. Located in the Bekaa valley, Beirut and the South of Lebanon, every Hope center provides a safe environment where children are receiving a good solid Christian education.
Ahmad, a 12 year-old boy who has been attending our Bekaa Hope center for the past 3 years, is one of the 300 Syrian refugee children that Heart for Lebanon ministers to. Instead of begging on the streets or working the fields, Ahmad is given the opportunity to grow in knowledge and build a better future for himself. In addition to the usual school subjects such as mathematics, sciences, language and sports, Ahmad is learning about Jesus for the first time in his life. In fact his favorite Bible story is Noah’s ark.
“I really like Noah’s story because he listened to God’s word and did as he instructed him,” said Ahmad.
At Heart for Lebanon, we are blessed to witness God’s work in the lives of underprivileged children like Ahmad. We pray that God continues his work in their lives so that they themselves can be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ wherever they go.