Middle East (MNN) — Five years after Syria’s civil war began, an estimated 11 million people are now homeless and hopeless. Approximately 7.5 million of those refugees are children; refugee school is becoming a priority in many host countries.
“School equips children with the knowledge and skills they need to rebuild their communities once the conflict is over. And in the short-term, it provides them with the stability and structure required to cope with the trauma they have experienced,” UNICEF Chief of Education Jo Bourne stated recently.
Working with churches in the Middle East, Baptist Global Response (BGR) is going a step further to help refugee children.
At a refugee school just started by BGR, Executive Director Jeff Palmer says they’re helping students process the trauma they’ve experienced in recent years. “Art therapy” is a huge help.
“[Counselors] had them [refugee children] drawing pictures, kind of as a therapy thing, telling their stories,” explains Palmer.
“Every one of those pictures had something blowing up, or it had airplanes dropping bombs; and these were like, five- and six- and seven-year-old children that were depicting…their story.”
Refugee school offers more than education
Many reports warn of Syria’s “Lost Generation” because war and ongoing violence in the region have made school an impossibility for displaced families. A refugee school organized by BGR and its partners was an obvious necessity.
The need for emotional support was just as clear.
“They’ve seen things that nobody should have to see. They see bombs going off, they see people mangled; they see horrific, horrific things,” says Palmer. “That’s a part of them when they come out.
“Physically, they may be safe, but emotionally [they’re] going through all kinds of trauma.”
The new refugee school offers much in the way of physical help: a much-needed education, resources, employment for refugees with teaching experience, nutritious meals, and a safe place to learn. Christian counselors, organized and acquired by a local church, are rounding out the other components of holistic care.
“We’re able to go in and listen, let them tell their story, counsel them through their story, and in the midst of that, share God’s plan for everybody’s life,” shares Palmer. “It makes a huge difference.”
It’s good news in the midst of heart-wrenching headlines. But, the refugee school can only continue with your help.
Click here to send financial help through BGR’s “Syria Crisis” fund. Or, send a check to Baptist Global Response 402 BNA Drive, Suite 411 Nashville, TN 37217 and designate “Refugee Education” in the Memo line.
Above all else, pray. Ask the Lord to heal emotional scars carried by refugee children. Pray that they will find hope in salvation through Jesus Christ. Pray that children will share the salvation message with their parents and other family members.