The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon greets you and thanks God for all of you and wish you every blessing from God Almighty. We have just concluded three days of consultation with our partners who were represented by a great number of individuals.
It was our second time we hold such a general meeting to which we invite our partners to share with them our hopes and struggles. And seek advices for more effective ways to carry on our various ministries among the Syrian displaced and made refugees, and also to reaffirm partner’s commitments to uphold and support this ministry, as we believe firmly that our ministry is a common endeavor.
We are grateful to God who through His guidance and compassion, and the support of all our partners we are able to reach out to thousands of the needy people and respond to the cry of people living in a tragic situation for the last five years.
Thank God that seven of our Syrian pastors and a preacher, have been able to attend and share their ministries with our partners. Indeed those are heroes on the ground.
There is a final statement that came out of the consultation which no doubt will be communicated to you by the General Secretary, the Rev. Kassab when the statement is ready.
In the following I will present to you our current ministry among the children from the camps in Lebanon as I promised all our partners who are concerned and already have supported this ministry. I shall try to be as comprehensive as possible even though I may be repeating some information I have already wrote in short earlier.
The schooling ministry for Syrian children from the camps in Lebanon:
Indeed thousands of refugee children in Lebanon have been neglected, denied schooling and normal childhood life. The number of children scattered on the streets (ages 4-9), begging for a sandwich, selling chowing gums, and other item is alarming. Those children are targets for persons who wish to make them a generation of arm carriers and thieves. Besides, those children are exploited on every level.
The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL), is a church historically concerned about education, is deeply disturbed for the sake of those children and want to try rescuing as many of those children as it can.
Thus, it was about mid 2015 when NESSL took a decision to begin church educational ministry for children from the camps in Lebanon, particularly in the Becaa valley. Thus, prepared a project and sent it to partners appealing for help in this needed ministry.
Aim of the project is to rescue children and provide them with an educational opportunity.
- Start with 200 children.
- Defined age between 5-11 years of age.
- Start with only the first three levels of schooling depending on the fact if children have ever went to school before.
- Estimated number of those to work in administration, teaching, counselling, and serving (as cleaners and observers) is 16. Hoping also to employ some Syrian trained teachers if available in the camps.
- Locations 2-3 ones as available in the areas of the camps.
- Hire buses to collect children from the camps and drive them back to the camps.
- Import the Syrian Curriculum, in the hope that soon those children may be able to go back to their country and be able to enroll in schools there.
- Provide children with books, stationaries, school costumes, accident insurance, one meal, clean water, milk, juice, and any medicine needed.
- Equipping every location with the needed chairs, desks, heating, renting when needed, trips and activities….
- Estimated cost for all the above: $ 230,700.
The hope is that we use our own facilities to minimize the cost of rents.
Frankly unimaginable difficulties we faced particularly in the villages where we had available locations that are Church properties. Some related to local politics, others are related to fear that once the children from the camps are in those villages their families will follow them. Villagers wanted refugees to be contained in the camps, other reasons we did not approve of but we did not want to create problems when we are trying to solve problems.
We have started equipping locations and had to move out five times. Thus, the plans to start in November was abolished painfully.
Praise be to God who does not allow the Church to give up when it faces difficulties.
Thus, as of mid-February 2016, we began in two locations in the Becaa Valley.
- The first is in Rayak, in the North of Becaa. Hosting 50 children, with 8 persons between, administrator, teachers, observer, secretary, maintenance, and cleaner, and all other daily needs. This school is in a (Baptist) Church facilities. We provided all needed equipment, photocopying of the needed curriculum, stationary, books, buses… Actual cost for the first month totals: $ 12.000.00 No rent needed. Duration of the schooling for the 2016 is 6 Months as we only started for the second school semester.
- The second is in Kib Elias, mid-Becaa. Hosting 46 children, with 6 persons in administration, teaching, serving and helping. All school equipment was provided, books, stationary, and the other daily needs. Cost of launching and the first month is $ 7.469.00. Duration of school for 2016 is 6 months.
Then in the month of March we were able to start two more:
- The third is in Tyre, in the South, hosting 61 students, with 6 persons in administration, teaching, and serving the daily needs. The location is in our Church but all equipment needed we purchased. Duration of school for 2016 is 6 Months. Cost of launching and the first month is $ 8.365.00.
- The fourth is in Minyara, in the North, hosting 70 children, with 8 persons in administration, teaching, Secretary, and serving other daily needs. The location is rented and prepared and equipped to fit four classes. Launching and the first month including rent preparation of this location, cost is: $ 15,500.00. The accurate total cost for the 6 months in each of the four locations can only be determined after the first 2-3 moths.
As it is a fact that the need will continue for years, and that the school year 2016/2017 will be regular (2 semesters), and the number of students will increase, need for support of this ministry will be urgent.
Please be also informed that we are working to insure that once peace is back to Syria those children we are teaching will be accepted in the Syrian schools as regular students after being submitted to an Entrance exam there.
We continue to appeal for support and prayer, as we hope next year we will start with the regular school year and have two semesters, and all the initial difficulties will be behind us.
God expects the church to serve with love and compassion.
To our God be the glory forever.
*Dr. Mikhael is a staffperson for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, the immediate past president of the Near East School of Theology, and a former member of the Common Global Ministries Board of Directors.
The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) continue to offer support for the work of many partners in the region to provide humanitarian response to the needs of Syrian refugees. Please consider supporting the work of Global Ministries' partners' relief efforts in and around Syria. You can do that through One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC), the Week of Compassion (Disciples), or through Global Ministries directly.