The most important thing is to share love

7 Jul 2014   |   Blog   |   Syria   |   Emergency Relief

Tags:  Lebanon, Syrian refugee, emergency response   |   No comments

Children at the Good Shepherd Sisters centre in Bekaa Valley

"I cannot see a family in need and not open my arms and my heart to them. If I have nothing material to give them, I am still here and able to give them love. The most important thing is to share love.”  - Sister Micheline

That’s the kind of thinking that has motivated Sister Micheline to open her arms and her heart to help care for Syrian children affected by the ongoing crisis in Syria. Sister Micheline runs the centre of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. She is joyful and her enthusiasm is contagious.

Sister Micheline recently met with Caroline Brennan, the Senior Communications Officer for CRS (Caritas US), and wanted to share a story that truly moved her.

Sister Micheline works day in, day out at the centre - a source of refuge for many children who are living in incredibly strenuous conditions. Originally established to assist the area’s vulnerable Lebanese children, the centre’s program and hours of operation have been extended to accommodate for the influx of Syrian refugee children. At the centre, Syrian children are now able to receive an education. They have a safe space to play and are supported by caring counsellors who help them overcome the trauma they have experienced.

The difference the centre and Sister Micheline have made in the lives of the children she cares for is palpable.

“We had a party,” Sister Micheline said. 

It was a surprise party – for her.

The children had saved their money over weeks to surprise Sister Micheline with a party – to thank her for all that she has given them. There, on the table in the kitchenette, they had placed small bags of potato chips, cookies, and cans of soda. These Syrian children who have lost nearly everything had saved whatever they could to express their gratitude—their love -- to Sister Micheline. 

Sister Micheline was rendered speechless and searched for the words to say to them.

I wanted them to recognise the evolution in their behavior. Some of these children had come to us in an aggressive state, or not wanting to talk or to play. And look at them now."

"I wanted them to know that, even if they go back to Syria, and even if the government regime doesn’t recognise their educational certificate from this centre, they have shown what they have learned. They have shown their values, their kindness.” she said.

The joyfulness expressed that day is a stark contrast to the reality experienced by millions of others impacted by the crisis. People who have stayed in Syria have been trapped in war-torn towns with limited access to food or medication. Others who have left have found themselves poverty-stricken, living in makeshift refugee settlements - like some of the mothers of children who attend the Good Shepherd Sisters centre. 

It’s people like Sister Micheline and programs like this that remind us that hope and change are possible, even when it may seem improbable.

Caritas Australia is working with CRS (Caritas US) to support Sister Micheline’s school at the centre of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Bekaa Valley. Since the early days of the crisis, the Caritas network has been helping refugees and host communities with aid relief including food and other essential items like mattresses and bedding, sanitation, healthcare, psychological support and education.

Learn more about the crisis in Syria

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