MENA (SAT-7) – [EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an article posted from SAT-7 USA, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa.]
In a few months, parents across the United States will take kids school shopping. They’ll buy colorful cartoon backpacks to hold their crayons, lunch boxes, and folders. But can you imagine if your children or grandchildren had no school to go to, for 5 or 10 years?
They’d have no books to read, no notebooks to write in, no artwork or report cards to bring home and hang on the fridge. They couldn’t tell stories about what happened on their field trip or at the playground because they didn’t go. They will also miss out on fun games and friendships, and a sense of acceptance and belonging. These memories will not be part of their childhood. This is true for millions of refugee children across the Middle East and North Africa, driven from their homes by war.
Siblings Hala and Elias, guests on the SAT-7 program Let’s Sing Together, have been displaced by war 3 times. They were first driven out of their hometown of Mosul, Iraq, by the 2003 Iraq war. They fled to their mother’s home country of Syria for a time, but when civil war erupted, they ran back to Iraq. The advance of “Islamic State” militants in Summer 2014 forced them to flee to Lebanon. Children like Hala and Elias struggle growing up without safety, stability, and schooling.
Your support stretches even further as SAT-7 and Heart for Lebanon work together to teach refugee children whose schooling has been interrupted. The SAT-7 KIDS program My School (in Arabic, Madrasati) brings a school to them through television. The teachers and curriculum are provided by Heart for Lebanon, as the SAT-7 Lebanon studio films and produces the episodes. The curriculum in the pilot program covers essential Arabic, English, and Math principles.
Camille Melki, Executive Director at Heart for Lebanon, says, “We’re proud of standing alongside SAT-7 as they venture into this on-air school…. I believe Madrasati has the opportunity to go into homes and [refugee] tents and teach children what no other NGO (non-governmental organization) would. It’s for the masses. The number of refugee children is so humungous that today we need to think of unconventional ways of educating them.”
Lebanon hosts the most refugees of any nation per capita, with a quarter of about 6 million residents being refugees. In any given month, Heart for Lebanon gives food and hygiene supplies to 2,800 Syrian and Iraqi families.
These kids have not only left everything they know, but they are also traumatized by the images of war. Melki points out that they have seen things that even an adult should never see. Sadly, their education is just another casualty of war.
Without Christ’s love, these children could be influenced by anger, resentment, and hatred. But SAT-7 and Heart for Lebanon have a chance to minister to families in need. Melki says, “The Church was there in the midst of their suffering…. [SAT-7 is] moving a community of young kids from total despair to hope in Christ.”
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