Food or a Future?

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A Syrian girl studies outside her shelter in a Lebanese refugee camp

For many refugee parents, it comes to that. Hard choices are daily challenges in refugee camps.

But the answer may surprise you. When parents were asked how relief funding should be spent in the camps, it was not food, shelter or electricity that topped the list. The response instead was, “Provide schools for our children.”

This plea echoed throughout the United Nations Summit on refugees that was held in September. UN sources reveal that half of primary-school age refugee children are not in school. Only 2% of humanitarian aid is ear-marked from schools in camps, and only 24% of that 2% is actually raised.

When parents were asked how relief funding should be spent in the camps, it was not food, shelter or electricity that topped the list. The response instead was, “Provide schools for our children.”

In her “Out of School, Out of Sight” report, Karen AbuZayd, advisor to the UN Summit, stated that refugee parents were not in camps only because of the bombings, but also for the chance their children may receive education. In some cases, parents stated that their children had been out of school for five years due to the civil unrest in Syria.

If you are a parent like me, you know your response would be the same. You would sacrifice and find sources of food, firewood, and clothing if it meant that funds could be redirected to giving your children an education.

Our mission is simple. No frills. Just putting children into safe learning spaces, in the care of teachers motivated by Jesus’ love for children.

“Education gives (refugees) a sense of normalcy amid the chaos that has overtaken their young lives,” AbuZayd, said. “The future of peace and reconstruction will depend on these children… If we can give refugees hope for education, then refugees will repay this investment.”

For Tent Schools International and our Lebanese partners, the “return on investment” we hope for through these schools is spiritual as well as social, as we share Christ’s love for them.

Many of you have given toward the September opening of a new tent school for Syrian refugees in a camp in Lebanon. Now, let’s work together to support what goes on inside the tent. Consider giving toward school books, heating as winter arrives, and helping the teachers provide for their families in the coming year.

Thank you for your continued support of this mission!

Dale Dieleman, Vice President