Though news coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis has come in waves, the mass exodus of Syrians to other countries has not slowed since a vicious civil war began in 2011. While we often hear of those fleeing to Europe, more than 2 million people are currently living as refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, which both share borders with Syria.
One of the areas that is most important for children living as refugees is schooling. Many children lost out on years of education while in Syria, and school is not a given in the countries where they now live. But education is not only critical to ensure a healthy future for children, but it’s also vital in times of displacement. Along with social inclusion, school can help children heal from the trauma they’ve experienced by offering a safe, stable environment when stability is scarce. With education and support, hope for a future becomes possible again.
This is why Nazarene schools in Lebanon and Jordan have been proving scholarships for refugee children. They’re helping children haunted by conflict hold on to hope for a better future. This year’s NCM Christmas Project will provide additional scholarships to give safety and stability to children caught in conflict.
Over the next few days, we will share the stories of children who have already benefitted from these scholarships.
“My family left my country, Syria, because of the war. We came to Jordan simply because we wanted to live peacefully.”
These are the words of 11-year-old Lely*.
Five years ago, when the war in Syria was first starting, she came to Jordan with her parents to escape the growing violence in their home country. Her father owned his own business in Syria, but now he earns a little money selling vegetables in the market. He tells Lely that he doesn’t mind—she is OK, so he is OK.
They do not have money to pay for school, but the Nazarene school near her home gave her a scholarship.
The first year wasn’t easy. “I spent the first three months crying all day long,” Lely says. “I had no friends. I didn’t know anything about school, even how to hold a pencil.”
But when she struggles with a subject, she says her teachers encourage her by telling her, “You can do it. Just keep trying.”
Lely also was grappling with a difficult illness. Two years ago, doctors told her she had epilepsy. For two months, she was kept out of school as she moved between hospitals and clinics.
Lely didn’t think she would ever be able to go to school again. She was terrified of having a seizure in front of her classmates. She was afraid they would reject her. When she did finally return, her worst fear came true. But after having a seizure in class, she awoke to find her friends and teachers surrounding her. Instead of turning away, as she had feared, they were just concerned and wanted her to be OK.
“I couldn’t hold my tears as I realized that I’m accepted, loved, and appreciated,” she says.
Lely adds, “In the future, I would like to be a teacher to have a chance to pay it back and be able to help other children, especially who [have]learning problems.”
Lely’s story is possible because of a scholarship. This year’s NCM Christmas Project will provide more scholarships so children like Lely can experience healing and hold on to hope for the future.
To support the NCM Christmas Project, go to ncm.org/Christmas.
(*All children’s names have been changed for their protection and safety.)