International (MNN) — Food. Shelter. Health care. Safety. Jobs.
When it comes to essentials, these are probably the first things to come to mind. You’re not alone; when most aid groups work with refugees, they make it a point to provide these resources.
David Durance of Teach Beyond would like to see education make that list.
As of last April, Durance is sitting in as Teach Beyond’s president. That means he’ll be heading up the challenge of bringing education to the voiceless, especially when it comes to refugee children. He’s also looking at the ties between education (or lack thereof) and poverty.
“One of the things that we’ve seen is the cycle of poverty and the cycle of violence, and part of what happens in that cycle is the education system either wasn’t present, breaks down, or even gets much worse,” Durance says.
This isn’t just speculation; Durance has seen the impact lack of education has on a country firsthand.
“I was just in Central Africa in a country that’s been torn apart by war for the last 10 years, and we had a chance to visit some of the schools there, and just seeing the deep need, the hunger for education that cannot be met… people, even in this context, [realize] that one of the very few avenues out of this cycle is that education needs to be provided.”
Part of the problem comes down to priorities. Most global aid groups don’t prioritize education, especially not over food, health aid, or shelter. However, Durance thinks it is still crucial to crisis care and aid efforts.
“This is actually something that struck us when we had our German office call us a few years ago and talk to the global teaching community about what was happening in their back door,” Durance explains. “This was not being thought about by the German government… and they were saying to us and to Teach Beyond Germany, ‘Hey, how can you be participating in this need?’
“That actually helped birth a whole movement within Teach Beyond to respond to this need.”
Some people are asking for help, but not everyone can.
“There’s another group of people that can even ask for help, Durance says. “There’s a group of people that can’t even articulate that they need help because they have no means of doing so.”
Education gives a voice to the voiceless, and isn’t that exactly what the Church is called to do?
When it comes to the voiceless, few groups struggle to be heard as much as displaced refugees. That’s where Beyond Borders, a branch of Teach Beyond that focuses specifically on refugee communities, steps in.
“There are 4 million refugee children without any access to education in these refugee camps,” Durance says.” That is just an astronomical number, and we’ve realized the Christian mission, one of the things that we saw in Christ’s ministry was to be compassionate for those around us.”
Teach Beyond wants to do everything it can to give people practical ways to get involved, especially when it comes to helping refugees.
“We’ve been sending members of Teach Beyond to go participate in creating the framework for education. Durance says. For example, team members might help put on a camp that focuses on “spending time in creating a long term classroom environment for these kids, and then hopefully getting them into system that allows them to go through a K-12 school system in the future.”
The need is great, but Teach Beyond is a little short on harvesters.
“If we had 1,000 members tomorrow, could we place then all? I think we probably could. There’s so much need for our members around the world to be participating in this as part of the Christian movement.”
A Mission for the Church.
Part of what makes Teach Beyond’s work so impactful is the unconditional love that refugee families receive.
“It is an amazing thing for people to be offered love that is not expecting anything in return,” Durance says. “This is something that has been a part of our mission DNA since the beginning and something we want to respond to this need is love.”
That kind of love is something the Church is uniquely equipped to provide.
“These people provide this service with no expectation other than to provide the service and love them well. The dignity that gives these kids, that dignity that this gives these parents to feel like they’re providing something now for their families, has been transformative within the communities that were able to work.”
Header photo courtesy of Beyond Borders – Teach Beyond.