Middle East (MNN) — When the school year began last month in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), extremists had adjusted the curriculum.
We spoke with Vice President of Operations for Kids Alive International, Jed Hamoud, in Lebanon at their children’s home. He explains, “Basically, arts are taken out of school; music is taken out of school; a certain degree of sports are taken out of the schooling system.” It didn’t stop there. “If you’re going to higher education, topics like psychology, psychiatry, or counseling are being removed from the curriculum as well.”
Hamoud says they’re already preparing for one possible outcome. “It’s going to increase the duration of our involvement with ][refugees]. The duration of the services that we provide to them is going to increase.” Why? Even if the political situation were to change tomorrow, refugees might choose to stay in Lebanon. Hamoud says parents are asking themselves this question: “‘Do we want to take our children back to enroll in a curriculum that’s a very highly Islamic-centered curriculum?'”
Some refugees in Lebanon have enrolled in Lebanese schools and have been following the Lebanese curriculum, which, to a large degree, is modeled around French and English systems. However, others can’t get into the schools because their kids have fallen behind due to the disruption of the civil war in Syria prior to the ISIS advance.
This is where Kids Alive is adjusting their outreach. “What we’re doing initially is providing them with a literacy program, helping them to catch up. Many of those children have not been in school for a year or two or three years, in terms of their academic standard; [we’re trying] to streamline them into the Lebanese system.” Once they’re up to speed, “We do have our current Lebanese curriculum that we teach in our school. We have a 35 [student] school setup here in Lebanon at Kids Alive: a registered school with the government that takes the kids up to sixth grade.”
That’s just one aspect of what they’re seeing in refugee kids. Hamoud adds, “The kids we’re taking in: emotionally, physically, spiritually, psychologically, they’re very tender because a lot of them have gone through experiences that no child should go through.” Uncertainty keeps a lot of kids isolated, because “many of them are going to come to us wondering, ‘Is this going to be the last stop, or just a stop along the way?’ The prayer of many people could be that this may be their last stop.”
As refugees face the possibility of resettling long-term, Hamoud says the new “normal” won’t change their mission. “We are Bible-centered, Scripture-centered. The Scripture is the core of everything we do here at Kids Alive in Lebanon.”
Pray that the ministry of Kids Alive makes a lasting difference in the lives of refugee children and their families. “They see the love of Christ here, they see that we are Christ-centered so that they desire the life that we demonstrate here, and they would want it for themselves as well.”