With support from the United Church and others, partners are working hard especially to empower Syrian women and children. The Joint Christian Committee for Social Services (JCC) provides services to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. JCC is the Lebanon Area Committee of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees and the Middle East Council of Churches, which are Mission and Service partners.
The war has abruptly interrupted children's schooling; many are unable to take final exams to advance to the next level of education or to secure employment. JCC stepped into the breach, starting an education program for a necessarily limited number of Syrian and Palestinian refugees who were denied entry into Lebanese schools. In 2013, JCC began classes for secondary school (grades 9 and 12) based on the Syrian curriculum, hiring teachers who are refugees from Syria themselves.
After nine months of study using the Syrian curriculum and textbooks, 64 students travelled to Damascus in May 2014 to take exams to pass the 9th and 12th grades, respectively. The students were accompanied to the border by JCC staff to ensure that they would be issued visas that would allow them back into Lebanon. (Refugees who cross back into Syria are generally refused entry back into Lebanon). JCC's hard work ensured that the students returned.
With United Church support, the Inter-Church Network for Development and Relief of the Middle East Council of Churches (ICNDR) is providing psychosocial support for Syrian women and children seeking refuge in Lebanon. “The situation in Lebanon is highly affected by the Syrian crisis,” says ICNDR Director Dr. Elias El-Halabi. Unaccompanied women and girls, pregnant women, women heads of households, disabled women, and older women are also facing particular challenges. Health challenges, especially challenges associated with mental health, are common among the refugees. Women and children in vulnerable situations are doubly impacted by the traumatic events experienced by all refugees. The violence of war, loss of home, and forced relocation are added stressors.
Despite these challenges, ICNDR is supporting a focus group of women that encourages them to take on new roles and instigate positive change. With appropriate support, these refugee women can improve their lives and the lives of their children, families, and communities. At least 100 women will receive tools and resources to help them deal with the stressful situations they live with, as well as training in skills that support the psychosocial well-being of their children. A minimum of 200 Syrian refugee children will participate in activities, programs, and games to help them express their feelings, stress, and fears in constructive ways, and will receive follow-up care by professional counsellors.
Please donate to the Syria Refugee Appeal. Your donation will be applied directly to the refugee and internally displaced persons work of United Church partner the Middle East Council of Churches and ACT Alliance.
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