Schools for Syrian Refugees - January 2017 Update
Lighting the Way
There are 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, many of whom have been living in tents in dismal camps for years – and 60% of them are children. In a country of only four million, the Lebanese public schools are able to accommodate just a fraction of these Syrian refugee children. And so, in late 2015, the National Evangelical [Presbyterian] Synod of Syria and Lebanon came up with a vision: open a school for 200 of these children and offer them the Syrian curriculum so that they could both build upon their previous education and be prepared to return to their “normal schools” once the war was over. The Synod, by the way, was not a novice in the field of education, as they have operated schools in Lebanon for over 100 years. Two schools are now operating in the Bekaa Valley. Another one is located north of Beirut in Minyara, and a fourth operates south of the capital in Tyre. All of these schools are under the direct supervision and guidance of a local Presbyterian church.
In October, a fifth school opened in Tripoli where Rula Sleiman pastors the church and will soon be the first woman ordained in the Synod! Rula oversees one of the largest “regular” schools run by the Synod and now guides this school for refugees, which meets in an older school facility owned by the Synod. All the children had a medical checkup provided by Dr. Assad, a Presbyterian physician.
The Tripoli School, like the other four, uses the Syrian Education Curriculum so that the students can eventually rejoin their schools back home. Subjects taught are Arabic reading/writing, math, science, ethics and English. The children are transported to/from the camps via buses and provided with uniforms, all necessary books/materials and medicine when needed. One meal is provided plus water, milk and juice throughout the day. Each school day begins with worship: a prayer, a hymn and a Bible story.
This school currently has 54 children, ranging in age from three to ten years of age. Families continue to come to register their children as they seek, for them, some healing and hope after the traumatic experiences which many of the little ones have had – from hearing explosions to seeing a cousin shot. But smiles are returning, and the school has spacious facilities for both classrooms and recreation. All of these children come from Muslim families, by the way, and they are surrounded by Christ’s love as embodied in the presence of their teachers and caretakers in the schools. May this new year bring these children a new Light…that which was born in Bethlehem.
Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development
Through this and many other efforts of the Church in Syria and Lebanon, Christ is glorified and his name made known. We hear Paul’s word, “do not grow weary in well doing.” We invite you to continue with us on this journey of accompaniment. Gifts for the Refugee Schools or to the Refugee/IDP Appeal (which serves both Syrians and Iraqis) may be made by clicking HERE or by sending a check to our main office.