Empowering Syrian refugee children and their families through education
The situation in Lebanon remains a desperate one. The profound political, social and economic crisis that has gripped the country since late 2019 has plunged large sections of the population into desperation and poverty. The pandemic has made matters even worse. Moreover, one and a half million Syrian refugees have flooded into the country as a result of the long war in Syria.
Therefore, a population of just 4 million Lebanese has had to absorb an additional 1.5 million Syrian refugees. It is a Herculean task for such a small country to cope with such a vast number of refugees and care for them appropriately especially given with their own critical situation, on almost every level.
Education for the Children of the Bekaa Valley
An exceptionally large number of refugees have settled in the Bekaa Valley, close to Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria. One of the most urgent tasks facing this region, is to figure out how to provide some kind of schooling for as many of these Syrian children as possible. It is clear that without education, they may become a lost generation, one without a future either abroad or in their own home country. Without education, the problems facing children and society in general will only worsen over the long term.
The hope is that with the possibility of extending education opportunities locally, may be an important factor that will encourage families to stay in the region—perhaps even motivate them to eventually return to their homeland of Syria, rather than attempting to emigrate to Europe, the United States or Canada. Well-educated young people are desperately needed in Syria to help rebuild the country.
The Jesuits are running three schools in the Bekaa Valley, two primary schools and one secondary school. Altogether there are 113 Syrian children attending these schools. Father Marek Cieslik, the general director of the schools, has asked our help for his students because of the terrible economic situation in the country that is becoming increasingly difficult and making it very difficult for the local Jesuits to maintain their schools.