It's so easy for our hearts to grow weary when hearing about the struggle of refugees. The numbers and data accompanying a conversation about refugees aren't always encouraging. And when we take in all of this information, it can be really hard to know how to help refugees in the Middle East. However, if you're here, that probably means you care about the needy and vulnerable in our world. So, allow me to share both the hard data and hope in the midst of this reality...
Did you know that, currently, there are more refugees from Syria than from any other country? And, while small nations, Lebanon and Jordan, have each taken in over a million Syrian refugees. (And these are just the refugees who are officially registered in-country.) Lebanon and Jordan are the 2nd and 4th largest host countries for refugees per capita. While the numbers are staggering, we are in the perfect place to serve our refugee neighbors.
The life of a refugee is hard. Not only have they been displaced from their home, but it often happens violently and tragically. Most refugees have little to nothing left from their old life. And this is not just belongings and financial assets. Community, home, education, and family are also lost.
Almost half of all refugee children don't go to school. According to UNHCR, the exact number is 48%. As refugee children get older, that number gets lower. Only 34% of refugee youth go to secondary school (high school).
Global statistics clearly show that nations are better off when children are educated. Improved education leads to economic improvement for a whole country - as well as many other benefits. Teaching children in impoverished areas the basics of reading and writing alone would lead to 170+ million people finding their way out of poverty (UNESCO).
Both the numbers of refugees not receiving an education and the numbers that show us the power of education are staggering. From day one, HOM has been invested in educating the next generation. And for the last 20+ years, that commitment has not wavered. We will continue to help children and families on their journey out of poverty for as long as possible.
Very few of us will ever know the trauma of fleeing our homes as refugees. Refugees encounter ongoing limitations and struggle every step of their attempts to rebuild.
But one thing we do know is that the millions of refugees who live in the countries where we work are within the reach of our care. So, as long as we are able, we will serve. We will serve by providing education for as many children and youth as possible. We will serve in the avenues of development.
And as we continue to work with the refugees in our communities, instead of only seeing the bad news, we will continue to look further. We are always asking, what can be done. What is possible?
In the last year alone, we have served hundreds of thousands of people with food, clothing, shoes, and medical supplies. We have over 2500 children in our school program every day. Our feeding program is regularly making sure thousands aren't going without. Our youth center hosts over 350 refugee youth weekly for continued education and counseling. I could go on, but you get the point.
When we are willing to go further and see past the bad news, we find the good being done every day. When we go a little further, we can see that so much good is possible.
That is the story you are part of as partners with us in this work. Thank you for caring for these communities.
Until next time...