Tent Schools International

New skills, bright futures – vocational training equips refugee students

Vocational training renews hope in Lebanon

A few years ago, Pastor Joseph Milan had four electrical tools, two sewing machines and three computers. He and his son Sayeed, co-founders of Warm Heart Lebanon, were using what they had to deliver vocational and technological training to Syrian refugee families in Bekaa Valley, but the work was under-resourced and the progress slow. However, the two men were dedicated to the belief that vocational training renews hope for Syrian students.

Since then, Tent Schools International (TSI) supporters have come together to help Warm Heart grow its vocational programs, with TSI sending laptops through a partnership with electronics refurbisher, Comprenew. Warm Heart now has electrical tools for 20 students, 13 sewing machines, and twice the number of computers.

“I thank God for TSI, for your [donors], for your love, care and support,” Joseph said.

The sewing class is the most recent addition to the mobile school’s offerings. Sewing students initially made throw pillows, but quickly wanted to take on more projects. “They were sleeping on the pillows, but they couldn’t turn in the night because they are small and square,” Joseph said. “They asked my wife, ‘Can we make real pillows?'”

The importance of relationships

Joseph and Sayeed agree that relationship-building is the most important part of Warm Heart’s work with refugees, and considering the sobering aspects of their students’ lives, spending quality time together is a key part of reaching them.

“Hot meals we’re sharing together, the way we appreciate them, the way we show respect – it gives them value and dignity,” said Sayeed. “We take their opinions seriously. All of the life skills involved in our interactions with them while also providing academics is helping. We are making a difference. They are changing. This is definitely a positive result.”

The majority of refugee youth find work in the fields of local farmers to support their families, making school attendance a challenge. When they do come, “you can see their smiles in their eyes, without them saying anything,” said Rawan Haddad, TSI’s development director who is originally from Jordan. “We can see their joy when they are able to go to school.” Warm Heart believes this is partly due to the fact that vocational training renews hope for them as individuals and for families as a whole.

Sayeed says without education, Syrian kids will lack opportunities. “Without school, they will be taken advantage of. It’s not just the academics they are benefiting from. They are looking for opportunities. They want to develop. They are catching our vision for them.”

Our goals:

"It's not just the academics they are benefiting from. They are looking for opportunities."
- Sayeed Milan

Syrian students learn the names of electrical tools at the TSI/Warm Heart mobile school in Lebanon

Pastor Joseph instructs a student in electrical skills

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