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As we head together into the holiday season, here’s a question for you: what’s on your Christmas shopping list, or your wish list? Chances are one of those lists contains a digital device – a phone, tablet, laptop, or game system. These are part of an accelerating reality that within years, not decades, the internet will be accessible to everyone across the planet.
Educational opportunities through the internet will be limitless, but there is one catch: the student must be able to get online. In marginalized or refugee communities, schools are most often the only access points to the internet for students, if they have one. As we witness on television the devastation caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, or wars, we can understand just how vulnerable schools and their students are, and why their learning can be disrupted for years.
Our goal at Tent Schools International (TSI) is to make education portable for all students, especially those displaced by these events, wherever they are, and wherever they’re going.
That’s why, this year, our LEAP program became one of our leading ministries. Thanks to your generous response, LEAP has grown quickly, delivering laptops and other portable devices to learners in Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Tanzania, and the United States. “I am reminded again of the way God uses His global family to fulfill His purposes,” reports Doug Wicks from a school for refugees in Jordan, where a dozen LEAP laptops were delivered. “The laptops have already been a huge blessing to the students and staff at the center.”
More requests for portable education keep coming, like this one from German Ibarra Ramos in Mexico, after two September earthquakes 12 days apart destroyed hundreds of schools in two Mexican states. “The situation is critical because it takes thousands of provisional schools to resume classes, and the government will not be able to handle it,” Ramos said, in his appeal for temporary shelters to use as schools.
Once we meet needs for tent structures and technology access, we are left with one question: what sort of education happens inside those tents, and on those portable devices? The hidden enemy of learning for millions of displaced children is Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). Aware that students with PTSD make teaching and learning especially challenging, TSI published a guide titled Beyond PTSD: a Trauma-Informed Guide for Educators, now available through Amazon or at our headquarters in Grand Rapids, MI.
This has been a wonderful year of opportunities stretching us as an organization in many wonderful ways. We have seen how God, through partners like you, provides resources to continue and launch new initiatives that breach barriers to learning wherever God leads.
Challenges remain. We need your support more than ever as we see an escalation of conflict, persecution and natural disasters near and far. The good news is that you can reach out and touch a child with Jesus’ love.
When you give to Tent Schools International, you support these efforts:
• Tent schools for displaced students, like those whose schools were destroyed in Mexico’s
recent earthquakes, and for Syrian refugees living in Lebanon
• Portable technology, enabling refugee students in countries like Tanzania, Nepal and Jordan
to access educational resources online
• Teacher support in the form of specialized guides that equip educators in the United States
and elsewhere to meet the needs of students with PTSD who have fled war, persecution or
To learn more about how you can leave a legacy in support of our ministry with an endowment or annuity, please contact me. God bless you and yours during this holiday season.
Scott Vander Kooy, President