Pierre Houssney of Horizons International says the nearly six million Syrian refugees scattered near and far have no incentive to return. “Many of the people that fled had political issues with the (Assad) regime,” he explains.
“The regime has put a black X on entire tribes and entire families [so] if they come back, they’re going to be captured, tortured, or killed.”
Lebanon houses more than a million Syrian refugees, often in dire conditions. Without access to school, refugee kids make prime targets for extremist recruiters.
“If you fill a child’s head with information and teach them to read and write, they’ll be driven toward a career,” Houssney says.
“But if you don’t, then anybody who comes along and gives them some kind of purpose – puts a machine gun in their hand, [for example], and says ‘let’s go’ – [kids are] going to be compelled by that because they don’t have anything else.”
Refugee kids find a chance to learn at Horizons’ School of Hope. Nearly 150 students in this program learn how to read and write. They also learn essential comprehension skills needed for a successful life. Best of all, each student gets to meet Jesus.
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“Syrian refugee kids need a lot of catch-ups. We’ve had 12-year-olds that never learned how to cut paper with scissors,” Houssney says.
“We had to start first-grade classes for mixed ages between eight- and 12 years old.”
Header image depicts Syrian refugees living in an abandoned factory near Saida, Lebanon. (Photo, caption courtesy of Anthony Gale on Flickr)