Last month our Director Rachel Bentley went on a research trip to Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, to look into the possibility of supporting an education project with Syrian refugee children.
Over the past three years, more than 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the escalating conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule. The violent internal conflict has demolished entire neighbourhoods and forced more than nine million people from their homes. Around 2.5 million have had to flee to neighbouring countries, with Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon bearing the brunt, struggling to accommodate the flood of new arrivals.
Rachel noted during her trip that the Lebanese people were incredibly hospitable, but how after three years of a large influx of Syrian refugees (now a quarter of the population), tensions are starting to rise. The Lebanese government is not allowing large camps in the area. As a result, wherever you look around Bekaa Valley, small settlements of 50-100 families have sprung up.
Most of these camps have satisfactory sanitation, and tents have been provided through the UN. Our Lebanese partner currently provides health clinics and supplies to two settlements. In one of these settlements they are running a successful school.
Children on the Edge will be supporting this local partner in starting a second school in the neighbouring camp, with their own refugee Syrian teachers. Where other projects of this kind bring in teachers from the outside, this model raises up teachers within the community, enabling literacy to grow and the use of their own Syrian curriculum.
Our partner has built strong relationships with the Syrian community and through this have discerned a real need for further provision of education in the camps. The school will be able to cater for 74 children and the tent structure is already being prepared.
Please do watch this space for further news about this new project and consider donating to our work.