Refugees without the Olympic dream

By August 10, 2016

Lebanon (MNN) — Yusra Mardini has been winning hearts with her story of going from Syrian refugee to Olympic swimmer.

However, there are still refugees who haven’t swam their way to greatness. Instead, some of them are in Lebanon, the small Middle Eastern country surrounded by war-torn Syria.

But, these refugees are not alone. Kids Alive International is in the country providing physical and spiritual care to refugee children and their families.

Creating Refugees

Global Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer 1

(Photo courtesy of Kids Alive)

Since the civil war began, about 1.5 million Syrians have fled and are living in Lebanon, most of them being women and children. This doesn’t include the numerous Iraqi refugees who’ve done the same.

With that many extra people in this small country, societal pressures have been building. Being so close to Syria’s civil war, Lebanon has become a polarized nation. It’s split between people who support Syria’s government and those who oppose it.

But Kids Alive isn’t concerned about the politics, it’s concerned about the children. One-third of all children living in Lebanon are now refugees. That’s a third of the Lebanese kid population who’s lives have been utterly changed, and not for the better.

Jed Hamoud with Kids Alive says, “More than half of our kids are Syrian refugees. So we have a number of Syrian refugee kids in our residential program, a number of Syrian refugee children in our school program. And we also want to open up a literacy program specially for these children of Syrian refugees.”

The Risks and Dangers

Syrian refugee children, particularly those in their early teen years, are more vulnerable and at risk for radicalization. They’re prime in nearly every way because they’re young enough to be molded, but old enough to be handed a gun. Another problem these children are facing, however, is no education.

(Oasis photo courtesy Kids Alive Lebanon)

(Oasis Refugee Center photo courtesy of Kids Alive Lebanon)

Some kids have never attended school. They were too young when Syria’s civil war began, but now that they’re school aged, there are no schools for them to enroll.

Without organizations like Kids Alive stepping in to make sure these kids are learning, there’s potential for an entire Syrian generation to be uneducated and illiterate.

But Kids Alive is attempting to remedy this at its Oasis Refugee Center. “We’re trying to modify a space that was initially intended to be a workshop. But, right now the need to provide education for the Syrian children is much greater than to provide a workshop space,” Hamoud says.

Kids Alive still has room to expand, but not by much. And as the refugee crisis continues, it wants to open another literacy center closer to the main refugee population, near the neighborhood of Nabaa.

Furthermore, kids feel safe at Kids Alive’s Oasis center. Hamoud says their safety is by the grace of God. Why? Because anyone could walk in behind the walls protecting these children, but no one intending harm has.

To date, Kids Alive has not been a terrorist target. Hamoud also credits this to the fact Kids Alive is stationed within a mostly Christian neighborhood.

“It’s not a place that ISIS…want[s] to venture into. So that becomes like a safe place for us because they don’t want to upset the Christians,” Hamoud shares. At least, not upset them more than they already are.

Support through Christ’s Love

Though supporting children is what Kids Alive does best, the organization also focuses on influencing not only the kids’ lives for Christ, but their families’ as well. Kids Alive hosts family ministries like Bible studies, support groups for parents, and so much more.

The ministry infuses Christ’s love and the Gospel into everything it does. After all, out of all the things these families and kids learn, the most important is that they hear God’s Word and learn of His love for them.

Hamoud recounts how, because of this, kids have witnessed God’s love and have chosen to be baptized in Christ’s name. Will you help these kids continue to grow in Christ?

Helping Those in Need

(Photo courtesy of Kids Alive International)

(Photo courtesy of Kids Alive International)

For Kids Alive to continue this ministry to refugee children and their families, they need help through prayers and funding. So, please pray.

Pray for these kids and their families to have open and responsive hearts to the Gospel, pray for their safety, and pray for Kids Alive’s ministry to continue.

Also, please consider giving to Kids Alive. For the ministry to transform the Oasis workshop into a literacy center, it needs funding. Help this Syrian generation not lose their future, but gain one founded on Christ.

Learn more about Kids Alive’s work in Lebanon here!

Click here to donate!

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