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BEKAA VALLEY, LEBANON – My name is George and I am originally from Lebanon. I am married to Anne, and she is from France. After doing mission work together in South America and Bangladesh, we moved to my home country of Lebanon in 2007. Now, through our organization, we work with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Bekaa Valley, an area with the highest concentration of refugees in the nation.
A short explanation of the Syrian disaster
If you’ve followed the news, you know that a bloody internal conflict in Syria began in March 2011, becoming a full-blown civil war which affected the entire Middle East region.
According to the UN, it is estimated that 400,000 have been killed so far. “Save the Children” reports that the escalating violence in Syria has forced hundreds of thousands of children to flee their homes for neighboring countries. Many have been deeply affected by the horrors they’ve experienced or witnessed. Leaving their homes is heartbreaking for every one of them.
As of January 25, 2015, UNHCR speaks of 3.7 million registered Syrian refugees living in Syria’s neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Over 1.7 million refugees are living in Lebanon. Half of them are children under the age of 12. The numbers are still increasing.
Syrian refugees with children
Most of those refugees in Bekaa Valley live in tents. They suffer from a lack of finances, food and clothes, and most of them don’t have mattresses, blankets, or access to clean water. The vast majority of these refugees are families with several children. These kids need special assistance, mainly to provide them with an education.
Establishing tent schools in Bekaa Valley
Our goal is to help refugees by fulfilling some of their basic needs, and especially by providing education to those most in need of it. With your help, we can plant tent schools in Bekaa Valley. The initial school will be located in a camp that is made up of about 100 families and can host about 100 children from ages five to ten years. Three full-time teachers will be working at the school. Reading, Writing, Math and English are the subjects that will be taught. Besides learning, the students will also be offered activities such as sports, art and technology.
A report from one of our existing schools
Our organization has already established three schools in Bekaa Valley. The students there continue to improve in their learning and behavior. They love their school, and absences are rare.
Every day, the classes start with a devotional time: a song, Bible story and a prayer. All of the kids are exposed to the message of the Gospel. Students have expressed that they feel loved and cared for by their teachers. One teacher said, “It has not been easy to teach here, but it is a joy to see how much we are impacting the children.”
A parent said to me, “We are very grateful for the school as finally my kids can get an education. We also have noticed that our kids’ behavior is changing because of this school’s influence on them.”
Detailed cost and call to action
Our urgent goal for the start of the next tent school, established through Tent Schools International, is September, 2016. The one-time costs for tent materials and construction total $4,000. An additional $2,400 is needed for one year’s worth of school materials such as books, desks, notebooks and pencils. The total project cost for one full year of operation, including rent of the land, administrative functions and salaries for three full-time teachers is $32,800.
Imagine providing a full education centered on the love of Jesus to 100 children, most of them from Muslim families. Together, we can fund this school. Please consider coming alongside us as we “welcome the stranger” (Matthew 25:35) in Lebanon.
Partner of Tent Schools International™