Sitting with Syria’s struggling families
Life is unspeakably hard for Syrian families sheltering in Lebanon. BMS World Mission worker Philip Halliday recently had the privilege of meeting with some of the refugees and hearing their stories
“There are so many kids outside the school system. If our future is built on our children, that future is not looking very bright.”
This is what a Syrian taking refuge in Lebanon told Philip Halliday, the BMS Regional Team Leader for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, when he visited the country at the end of June.
The situation for the estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon is still dire. The majority of families are living in extreme poverty. According to news reports, forced prostitution, child slavery and early marriage are huge risks for Syria’s vulnerable women and children. For the 70 per cent of Syrian refugee children unable to access school in Lebanon, life consists of the endless monotony of hanging around their families’ one-room tents or working illegally to earn a few dollars a day for food for their parents, brothers and sisters. There is a very real risk that they will fall prey to traffickers or extremists, or that the girls will be married off to older men – just so that they and their family can survive. For some of them, this has been life for more than four years.
It’s a bleak picture, but BMS is doing something to help. Through partners on the ground, we are supporting the local Church to reach out in love to Syrians. We’re helping to provide education for their children. We’re helping to provide food for their families. And we’re listening to their stories and learning about their needs.
You can support our work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon by giving today, and by showing our new resource Syria’s Forgotten Families in your church and taking up an offering for the appeal.
The way aid is delivered is important. Some of the Syrians Philip sat with told him how the distribution of aid had at times felt dehumanising – something BMS is careful not to do. “I was changed from a person into a toy,” one twenty-something explained. He felt like his humanity had been lost in his need – he had become a number. BMS works through local churches that are building relationships with and getting to know their Syrian neighbours – our partners on the ground focus on social and psychological support as well as physical aid and education.
And we’re helping to empower some of the Syrians affected. The food distribution you will see in our resource Syria’s Forgotten Families, for example, is mostly run by Syrians who have fled to Lebanon. And the education project we are supporting in the basement of a church in the Bekaa Valley was set up to equip children to build a better life for the future than the one they currently know.
We don’t want to rob people of their dignity or humanity, but we do want to help them and show them God’s love. And we need your help.
“The Syrian war has been a long and terrible one,” says Philip. “While it is understandable that people in other countries may feel fatigued with hearing about it, I would urge readers to stay informed and engaged until there is a resolution and the opportunity to rebuild Syria. The needs are huge, as is the suffering.”
Please don’t forget Syria or the millions of Syrian refugees who are living in awful conditions today. Stand with us as we support Syria’s families, and share our appeal Syria’s Forgotten Families with your church and your friends.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.