This time of year in the United States and Canada, children and grandchildren are walking, skipping, and riding back to school. Arithmetic, Spelling, and Social Studies; AP Chemistry, Algebra II, and World History; recess, Friday night football, and school carnivals march through the field of young minds. Parents and congregations gather school supplies so that every student - and even their teachers - can begin the school year well. Many churches bless children and their backpacks as they begin the start of a new year.
Half-way around the world,Syrian families prepare to send their children to school, too. As families fled their homeland, they arrived in refugee camps throughout the Middle East. There, they face many challenges. When we send our children out the door on the first day of school, thousands of Syrian children will have missed months, or even years, of classes. Through our partners, your Week of Compassion is providing hot meals and food parcels, weather appropriate clothing, remedial classes and school supplies.
One school, constructed by the Orthodox Initiative (OI) with major and ongoing support from Global Ministries and Week of Compassion, is located in one of the five major informal refugee settlements which are scattered across northern Jordan. Children make up 60% of the population of these camps. Since the families here are disconnected from the major government-recognized camps, they lack access to government-provided services, like schools. They are also often overlooked by international aid organizations and, consequently, are some of the most vulnerable people seeking refuge in Jordan.
Dr. Peter Makari, Global Ministries Area Executive for the Middle East, has visited the families in these camps on multiple occasions. During his visits, he is reminded time and again that "these families are interested in the same things we are: a stable and safe life, opportunities for their kids, and peace."
When you buy the colored markers and graphing calculators for the students in your family or congregation, remember that your partnership and gifts to Week of Compassion send a message far and wide: where two or three students gather together, Christ - and you - are there. Help create a world filled with hope and compassion for all of our children, especially the ones facing war and conflict.
Donate today and support these children and their future, so that their first week of school will be a Week of Compassion.