Int’l (MNN) — Establishing access to education for displaced children became more difficult with COVID-19 but remains crucial for Tent Schools International.
The U.N. estimates that about 35 million children are displaced worldwide. Many of those kids will miss years of schooling. Tent Schools partners with local Christian leaders in refugee camps and other transitional areas to offer classes to kids who might otherwise fall behind.
Anne Hamming with Tent Schools says that despite the challenges, their mission remains the same through this difficult time. “We’re committed to ensuring access to education for children who’ve been displaced by war, terrorism or in some cases natural disaster. Right now, our focus and our two biggest projects are serving Syrian refugees who are living in refugee camps and displaced Iraqi Christians who were pushed out of northern Iraq by sectarian violence and ISIS.”
Remote Learning in a Refugee Camp
Hamming says that like many schools in the United States, teachers have turned to remote learning. They primarily communicate through phone calls and emails. School officials distribute packets of paper lessons and homework. Tent Schools and its partners also distribute food.
COVID-19 restrictions mean that people are finding less and less work to support their families outside of camp. Tent Schools stepped in to help ensure that food and schoolwork made it to the right hands so teachers and leaders could continue providing education.
“We’ve been working behind the scenes to support them with the materials and the financial resources they need to deliver food packets, to deliver the educational materials,” Hamming says. “If there was a need for a device in a home, to be able to do classes online, we helped with supporting them in doing that through our donor support here – to keep the work going, because the need for education never stops.”
Computers for Resettled Families
Tent Schools also helps provide assistance to resettled families in the United States.
As schools closed in the United States, they realized that some resettled families would struggle. Even families with access to smartphones may not have the resources to continue schooling.
So working with Comprenew, they created a grant program to give families in need the opportunity to receive a laptop.
“It’s small in number, but you can’t underestimate the impact that 22 families have now received laptops for their students to use for educational purposes,” Hamming says. “They can keep them even when schools return to normal, whenever that might be. They can keep these devices and use them as they continue their schooling.”
Pray and Join the Work
Many of the restrictions for COVID-19 are beginning to loosen, but refugee families still need support for education.
For Hamming, prayer is crucial. “We can pray for the continued health and safety of the communities we serve in the Middle East and around the world. We can pray for the health and safety of our resettled population right here in in West Michigan and other communities in the United States as we build and grow relationships and consider ways to continue our technology mission and grow it. Also pray that we have continued resources to be able to serve these populations.”
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Header photo courtesy of Tent Schools International