Lebanon (MNN) — The plight of children caught in the crossfire of the Syrian civil war makes for painful reading.
Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan currently host hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees including tens of thousands of children, traumatized and often living in squalid camps. Lebanon isn’t far behind, with nearly 1 in 4 people living there having escaped Syria.
A United Nations report four months ago detailed the kinds of horrors perpetrated on these children. What it amounts to is thousands of stolen childhoods. What will the future hold for them?
Without intervention of some kind, these kids will continue to suffer for a lifetime. Children of refugees are often denied access to schools, leaving them illiterate and unable to provide for their own families when they become adults.
An entire generation is now growing up without education. Jed Hamoud, Vice President of Operations of Kids Alive International, explains: “We’re having kids that are coming to our ministry that are really shook up. Some of them have not been to school in years, like two years or so, since the conflict in Syria started.”
The ministry has a number of outreach points in Lebanon’s Christian areas. Instead of adding the influnce of despair, they’re part of the solution. “Their parents heard about the ministry and that we are willing to accept Syrian refugees into our home with no conditions.”
Kids Alive provides care to as many as 150 children in Lebanon every year in its two Children’s Homes, School, and Care Center programs. Hundreds of applications are piling up for entrance into the Kids Alive programs in Lebanon, notes Hamoud. “Our school is full to the max. Our care center is full to the max. We’re accommodating as many kids as we can. Currently, we have about 43 Syrian refugees between the school, the residential program, and the care center.”
As well as a growing number of Syrians, there are also many Palestinian refugees in the country, along with other displaced people from Sudan, Iraq, and other places. The sudden increase prompted a shift in Kids Alive’s current work, which means adapting to the immediate needs, says Hamoud. “We’re trying to look at how we can create more space, so we’re having to abandon some programs like our workshop. We’re realizing that the need to take care of Syrian refugees at this time is greater than trying to provide vocational training at the moment.”
Hamoud goes on to say that the support their partners provide is critical to addressing the trauma these kids have lived through. “We’re trying to give them almost one-on-one attention in school to bring them up to date with their schooling. That’s basically what we’re trying to do: love them and care for them as much as we can.”
Kids Alive is developing their work with refugees and other vulnerable children over the coming year. They’re able to do this by providing Christian care and a secure environment to these children of war. Hamoud adds, “We can use a lot of prayer, first of all, for wisdom on how to minister to those children and the financial need to be able to expand our ministry to be able to minister to those children.”