IMPRESSIONS FROM THE FIELD
NORMALCY IN CHAOS
Near Zahle in the Beqaa Valley in Eastern Lebanon, there lives a group of Syrian refugee children whose childhoods are not like others’. Nila (name has been changed) and her family live as refugees in Lebanon. They were forced to flee their home in Syria due to the bloody civil war and the expansion of ISIS in the wake of the instability. They have had to leave everything behind, walking on foot over the mountain range that separates Syria from the Beqaa Valley. Her father has been sick for some years, making him unable to work. Due to circumstances that refugees have to face, children like Nila often live in cramped, shared quarters, unable to attend school and with limited resources.
Through the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development, Nila and others like her are able to be kids again through three-day camps and a one-day kids club. They receive some fundamental education as well as important life skills, such as interacting with groups in a safe environment, basic hygiene and discipline. The morning starts with worship and songs, followed by a story from the Bible that the kids can act out, then culminates in games and fun activities. The structured, consistent nature of the program helps to improve the children’s behaviour when they are at home. The camp reminds them that God has not abandoned them, despite their current circumstances and that through Jesus there is hope for the future.
Since starting camp, Nila has climbed out of her shell, is able to focus better and shows leadership qualities. She has even started to become a role model for the younger children. She loves learning about Jesus, which motivates her to continue attending camp. She and her father have expressed that Christ has become a beacon of hope for them. She also aspires to become a teacher so that she could help those who do not have the opportunity to go to school.