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The drive to support refugee families never stops at the Good Shepherd Center.
The staff at the school in Jordan worked through their Christmas break to plan the semester ahead and assemble desperately needed food baskets for students and their families. Staff members couldn’t wait to see their students in person when they made the food basket deliveries, even if it was across a doorway to stay safe from the coronavirus. They haven’t been with their students in person in many weeks.
“Everything we do, it comes from our hearts,” said Principal Dawlat Hijazeen. “We are now one big family. You can’t imagine how the happiness came as they put boxes together and heard the thanks from the families. The parents say they haven’t seen such kindness in their whole lives. We take care of them to stay healthy with food, financial help, and spiritual support.”
School has changed dramatically because of the pandemic. Staff teach children online. More than ever, they keep a watchful eye on their students for changes in outlook or engagement. Part of their work now also involves group meetings with parents who are lonely and yearning for connection with other parents.
The Good Shepherd Center is providing more assistance to families than ever. The Iraqi refugees they serve barely scraped by before the pandemic. Now, the adults are largely stuck at home with no ability to support their families. Feelings of hopelessness and worry about loved ones still in danger in Iraq abound.
Outreach to parents through the school and the church tied to the school has become a significant and deeply meaningful service.
“The parents tell us that we are the only ones who show up. Other groups help them once and never come back. We keep coming back to check on them,” Hijazeen said.
All the while, the school has added 20 students since September. Some are new Iraqi exiles trickling into Jordan. A few are Syrian refugees who hear about the program. Others come because they heard through other Iraqis about the Good Shepherd’s care and love for families.
As Iraqi children grow up in exile, programming for adolescents continues to grow. A school for children ages 12-16 opened in the fall of 2020. It continues to grow and educate teens through online instruction. This winter, they have new courses in geography and advanced Arabic. The Arabic class is especially needed. Christians from northern Iraq speak Assyrian. Mastery of Arabic as a second language is essential for their success in the Middle East.