In the Mount Lebanon region of Beirut, ADRA Canada is helping Syrian refugee children mentally heal by sponsoring community events and activities designed to help their families integrate into their new communities.
Wars and conflicts are devastating to all involved. People lose their homes, livestock, crops and land. Often forced to flee for their lives, they lose everything except what they are able to carry. In many cases, this is only the beginning of their losses. As refugees, living in a makeshift camp in a foreign land, they lose their independence, freedom of movement, occupation, dignity and self-respect.
Often the most innocent are the hardest hit. Children arriving in refugee camps are not only suffering the trauma of relocation and dispossession, many have witnessed horrific scenes, including the loss of their loved ones.
With the Syrian conflict now in its fourth year, over three million people have fled to Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon. More than one and a half million are children. In Lebanon alone there are at least 500,000 school-age children from Syria. Currently, about 80% of these children are not attending school. Young people in refugee camps who are not engaged in structured programs are in danger of exploitation. They are vulnerable to human trafficking, modern-day slavery or being recruited as child soldiers.
Beyond security, education plays an important role in recovery. In studies of refugee children, it has been shown that for young people who have been victimized by violence, or lost loved ones in war, the discipline of a daily routine of classes and activities play a crucial role in psychological healing. One recent event had refuge children work together with community members and youth from the Middle East University, to transform a mundane stairway into a beautiful mural of the “River of Life”.
Through an assessment of the needs of the refugees settling in the Mount Lebanon community, 120 children have been chosen to receive assistance to attend a local elementary school. Through these programs children are entering the door to a journey of restoration.
Education is considered by most to be a basic human right. It is in the best interest of every nation and community to provide and promote equal access by all children to a system of quality education and activities that will encourage them to reach their highest potential. This is especially true in refugee communities where children have suffered so much. In the case of the extended conflict in Syria, experts are concerned about a “lost generation”. This Christmas, let’s remember the children of Syria as they search for healing, meaning and hope.