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Ready, set, go! Schools prepare children for resettlement

An Iraqi Christian father and his two children pause for a portrait outside their new residence in Australia after several years living as displaced persons in Jordan. The children were placed in the correct grade for their age thanks to the preparation they received at our partner school.

Our goal at Tent Schools International is to get displaced children enrolled in loving schools. We want them to be ready when they return home in peace, or move to a new homeland. Our work honors and nurtures the God-given talent in each child so they can reach their potential, essentially erasing the gaps in their growth and development.

Families in Limbo

This goal is challenging because international refugee resettlement is typically a slow process. Families can be in limbo for years as they live in displacement and wait for entry to a new homeland. Then the pandemic hit, and resettlement stopped altogether. Refugee families served by our partner schools had to face a dire situation. What if they never got out of displacement?

At Long Last, Resettlement

Through late December and early January, seven Iraqi families we serve got the news they could leave Jordan. Resettlement agencies are once again placing refugees in the United States, Canada, Australia, and several European nations. With the support of resettlement agencies, they have new homes and a fresh start. In addition, one Syrian family with three daughters served by our partner in Lebanon gained passage to Zurich, Switzerland.

Our partner in Lebanon said the family gained entry to Switzerland in large part because of the conversational German they learned with our partner in Beirut.

“When the United Nations group heard these Syrian refugee girls speaking German, they said, ‘Wow! We will take you.’ They went from cramped quarters in the misery that is Lebanon to a flat in Zurich. They gave them a flat! Praise the Lord,’” said our partner Pastor Joseph Milan.

Language Instruction Pays Off

The family’s passage affirmed that Milan was right to build his school around language instruction. He built it on the belief that Syrians might never catch up to their Lebanese peers with traditional subjects; however, if he can equip them to speak several languages, they can navigate the world and gain access to opportunities and employment, particularly in the tourism and hospitality industries.

A Principal’s Love

Our partner in Jordan bade farewell to fifteen students from the seven families who gained entry to Australia. That amounts to more than 10 percent of the school’s enrollment, so it left a big hole in the school and in Principal Dawlat Hijazeen’s heart.

She and her staff poured all their love and energy into helping the traumatized children from northern Iraq. They also built strong relationships with the parents in the four to five years the families enrolled their children in the school and attended the church that founded the school. In many ways they were like family. Yet, Hijazeen is full of happiness and pride at the way the school prepared the children.

“We prepared them very well. We planted the love of Jesus in their hearts, and the children were all placed in the right grade for their age. They were placed right with the Australian kids the same age, even our special-needs student. They are all where they need to be for their age,” she said.