Philemon Project Preschool - August 2018 Update

Beirut, Lebanon

The Philemon Project's GROW Center was founded to provide the best practices of quality early childhood programs for the underserved. We provide equity in child outcomes within those we serve by focusing and maintaining the highest quality possible.

GROW: Problems our Project Seeks to Address
Neuroscientists, economists and early childhood development experts all suggest that investing in a child's early years is the most powerful way to affect change in society. Reaching children in their earliest years is emerging as a top focus around the world.

A report published by The Society for Research in Child Development claims "over 200 million children under five years of age are not achieving their developmental potential due to poverty, stunting and malnutrition." Our vision for the Philemon Project and its GROW Center is to help combat those statistics with the love of Christ and early childhood education. By God's grace, we have reached hundreds of children and their families over the past seven years.

In our context, Lebanon, adequate social services to support poor Lebanese, migrant workers, and refugees do not exist. Preschools are in abundance in Lebanon, but all charge fees well beyond the reach of the families of poor Lebanese, let alone migrant or refugee families. Illegal facilities also exist but offer overcrowded, understaffed centers – some resemble prisons more than preschools. We investigated two preschools for migrant workers' children in Nabaa, an under-resourced neighborhood in Beirut, and documented overcrowded conditions and abuse. 

One heartbreaking example: children tied to their chairs for long periods of time with pacifiers to keep them silent. The "care" room held only a mattress on the floor and a large screen TV –  no toys, no books, and no space for the children to move and play.

GROW: Our Vision and Solution to Address these Problems 
The Philemon Project created GROW with the vision to provide quality early childhood development and adult mentoring programs for underserved communities. Our long-term goals include expanding our present facility and replicating it in a new geographical area. We plan to work toward these goals slowly to maintain organizational and operational excellence and integrity.

In 2019-2020 the Philemon Project's GROW ministry hopes to expand its work to reach children ages four to eight. Cognitive experts argue that the optimal range for early childhood development is birth to eight years old. Therefore, to strengthen the existing work, we plan to develop an extended learning support project to reach the older age group. This will be in the form of a daily education program, building on the experience we have in developing the cognitive and social skills of the younger children, all the while sharing the love of Christ.

Our vision for the learning support program is to serve the local Syrian and Iraqi refugee population by bringing together children who are unable to register for school in the public educational system. Even if there were places in public schools for them, their needs could not be met as they are so far behind. They have additional struggles due to war and displacement that hinder their ability to succeed in the large class sizes of the government schools.

God willing, the Philemon Project's GROW Center, together with the learning support program, will serve approximately 145 children monthly and work with their parents in our adult mentoring ministry. Part of our vision is to also offer life skills training. Positive parenting classes, child protection, and supportive child development, paired with the cognitive elements, significantly build the capacity of the students' developmental phase, as well as provide continuous adult mentoring for their families in the form of social work support and one to one mentoring.

Many of our children can speak English, Arabic, and their own mother tongue seamlessly. Their parent(s) also grow. They observe the changes in their children, start to become real partners in their children's development experience, and know that it is the Church – the hands and feet of Christ – providing this support to them. Our long-term goal is to reach children and their families for Christ, create stability for them, and lead to a better future for all.

Missiologically, the church is at its best when it faithfully participates in working with the poor in a range of ministries. The church in the Middle East is no exception. By God's grace, the Philemon Project's GROW Center has been faithfully caring for the poor since our very beginning. And through the project, God has touched many.

GROW: Donations and Partnerships
Our income for the project is only 1/3 of our total operating budget, but by God's grace, he has sustained the project thus far. We pray this will continue in the future. We are continuing to work towards developing new partnerships to help us replicate and expand our work to serve at-risk populations as we do now. 

Grateful for your partnership,
Philemon Project Preschool

Read more about the Philemon Project Preschool HERE.

The Outreach Foundation is seeking $30,000 to assist with scholarships and general operations.