Syria (MNN) – Since the beginning of November, reports of a new “mini-caliphate” forming in northeast Syria have trickled across media platforms. In the Al Hol holding camp, radicalization and the indoctrination of children occur. Children as young as ten threaten to kill others who do not submit to ISIS ideology on camera.
Emily Klooster, executive director for Tent Schools International, says kids left uneducated are especially vulnerable to radicalization. The organizations and people partnered with Tent Schools do not reside in areas with previous ISIS control, but most work with kids whose lives were upended by ISIS’s reign.
“These kids often feel very discouraged, as we could understand, thinking about the conditions they’ve been left in and everything they’ve lost. They feel hopeless. They really have lost everything. Many of them arrive, having lost even their immediate families, in addition to having lost their homes, communities, schools, friends. So, ISIS can indeed, and does use brainwashing techniques to kind of play off of these kids’ sense of trauma, loss, anger,” Klooster says.
Need for Stability and Education
These children, teenagers, and families have fled ISIS activity. Klooster says it is crucial to welcome the forcibly displaced into new communities. Refugees need to be able to put down roots and contribute to a local society again.
“There’s a void there that ISIS often seeks to fill. And yes, our partners do witness kids who’ve experienced this level of trauma, and our partners are coming in with these schools, into these very urgent situations where without these schools and without the mentorship from these teachers, the kids are left with that void,” Klooster explains.
A partner of Tent Schools in Lebanon is filling this void with his shipping container school. Pastor Joseph opened the school in a refugee camp, which was founded eight years ago as a temporary shelter on farmland.
Now, this shipping container school is helping Syrian refugee kids have a chance at life. For these kids, Pastor Joseph offers warmth and kindness. He is reintroducing kids to joy through jokes and his hearty laugh.
“The kids are responding absolutely to him in kind with big smiles and laughter. So, he’s developed these really quality, even light-hearted relationships with them,” Klooster says.
When parents see this, they trust Pastor Joseph and accept his help, especially after they see the positive impact this man is having on their children and teenagers. And through Pastor Joseph’s selfless, Christ-like dedication to them, these kids and their families might heal and find hope.
How to Practically Help
Despite the reopening of border crossings between Lebanon and Syria, Syrian refugees tell Pastor Joseph they are too afraid to return to their county. They are still traumatized by what they witnessed during the civil war. If they did return, they are returning to nothing.
“There’s no work. Their homes were destroyed,” Klooster says.
Being stuck in a foreign land means hundreds of thousands of refugee children are in Lebanon and need an education.
“With enough funds, we could even begin another shipping container school that can impact an increasing number of Syrian children. So, for every shipping container school that is funded through Tent Schools International, he can serve 50 more Syrian children,” Klooster says.
Click here to support education for Syrian refugee kids through Tent Schools International.
Header photo courtesy of Tent Schools International via Facebook.