Education providing hope to Syrian children
13 Mar 17
Six years ago, on 15 March, 2011, there was an escalation of the conflict in Syria. Since then, the war has claimed over 400,000 lives and uprooted more than half of Syria’s 22 million people.
As it enters its seventh year, Syrian children are now growing up and starting school in countries like Jordan and Lebanon.
Caritas Education Programs, implemented by Caritas Jordan and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), are helping Syrian families to get on with lives as much as they can in exile. Literacy and numeracy classes, along with parental psychosocial sessions, are a part of whole family support, designed to promote academic improvement at home and at school.
Thousands of Syrian children are growing up in Jordan after the conflict forced them from their homeland. Photo: Megan Gilbert, Catholic Relief Services.
“I’ve always said I have hope that we can go back to our country because we have faith in God,” says 45 year old Mariam. “Being away from home is the most difficult thing but I’m thankful that my children can go to school. I always hope that my children will have the best future and to finish their studies.”
“I hope my children will be in good condition, have a good education and a better future,” says another mother, Amona.
“I try to make my daughters forget what happened in Syria,” says 55 year old Whalid. “Whenever there are international meetings about Syria, I’m optimistic that we’ll see light at the end of the tunnel. I’m very optimistic about returning to Syria. Otherwise I wouldn’t have come [to Jordan] if I wasn’t optimistic.”
I’m optimistic that we’ll see light at the end of the tunnel.
Maggie Holmesheoran, CRS’ Jordan Program Manager, says the children face many challenges.
“Parents have very limited jobs options, if any, and are often traumatized themselves, making it complicated for them to effectively care for their children and themselves. Homes are often cramped and under-heated or have poor ventilation, making studying at home and getting adequate rest difficult,” Maggie says.
“Syrian children also experience frequent bullying by Jordanian children and sometimes teachers in the public schools, demotivating them from attending and causing further loss in confidence.”
Maggie says families are deeply appreciative of Caritas’ specialised education services and support.
Amona, a mother supported through Caritas Australia programs, is stitching at home to help support her family. Photo: Megan Gilbert, Catholic Relief Services.
“I’m thankful to Caritas for alleviating my suffering. I need all kinds of assistance. The cash I received was right on time and helped solve many problems” says Whalid.
“Because of Caritas, we can afford to pay our rent and bills” says Mariam.
Maggie says the future for most children in Caritas Education Programs depends on how many opportunities are made available by the community supporting them in the coming years.
“They currently live in limbo, without the same chances to decide their future path available to them and their families as for those who are citizens of a country. They have the same hopes and dreams as other children, but the realization of those is, unfortunately, not just based on determination. Resources and support are also essential parts of the equation,” says Maggie.
“Continuing to provide financial support, advocacy and solidarity for these vulnerable families will help them to reach a place of increased peace and hope for what comes next.”
Watch this short film by Caritas Internationalis, highlighting the support of the Caritas network to those impacted by the Syrian war.