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The words have now been spoken in our house: “I’m bored. I can’t wait for school to start.” Yes, my children actually want to go back to school. Perhaps it’s a return to their friends or routine; anything seems better than hours without “something to do”.
When I hear my kids longing for the return to school after only a month at home, I think about the extent to which other young children, displaced for years from their cities and schools, wish for any school to attend, even for a few hours a day.
Picture the sense of loss of a routine, of seeing friends and teachers each day. And those are not the only losses refugees and other displaced children experience. As a former elementary teacher, I was always amazed (stunned, actually) at the toll even a summer break takes on retention of math and reading skills.
For a displaced child, the loss of basic skills equals a loss of academic development. A lack of academic progress equals lost opportunities for personal growth, fulfillment of dreams, and even the ability to become self-sufficient.
Refugees have proven over centuries that they are among the most productive and entrepreneurially successful members of any society. This is because they know first-hand what it means to replace loss with learning, and take full advantage of any opportunities that were formerly closed to them when their lives were turned upside down.
My friends, because you are with us today, we at Tent Schools International have the privilege to step into the gap at a critical time, precisely when resuming the learning of basic, essential skills make the uncertainty of the refugee life a bit more tolerable, and a lot more hopeful. We have new requests and opportunities to reach more children with tent schools and technology designed to leap-frog access to learning, thanks to the borderless digital age.
I leave you with a suggestion. Think of the children in your life – your own, your grandchildren, your nephews and nieces, the children on your block, or those on their way to or from school whenever you see a school bus go by. Consider giving a back-to-school donation to Tent Schools International. It could be a one-time contribution or a commitment to monthly donations through our Circle of Friends program.
Know that because of your compassion, children are returning to learning after a very long and unwelcome break.
Please remember to pray for children, teachers and bus drivers, too. Thank you for your continued prayer and support as we work to ensure access to education for children experiencing displacement.
Dale Dieleman, Executive Director