We’re thankful for the many opportunities the Lord gave this summer to serve the Syrian refugee and poor local children during our summer English classes. We just concluded all English classes and events for the summer, and now are beginning to look ahead to the upcoming school year!
This school year we have over 60 Syrian refugee and poor local children hoping to be sponsored to attend the local Christian K-12 school, or to enter the Christian-run remedial school program. We have 44 kids at the K-12 Christian school. There are also 15-20 children in need of entering the remedial program this year, with the hope they’ll be able to be placed in a full time school next year after catching up with their studies. Most of these children are 7-10 years old and have never been in school a day in their life. They need a lot of work to catch up!
If you aren’t already familiar with the Education Assistance Program (EAP) there’s a detailed description of the program elsewhere on our website at this link: https://www.thirstyground.org/refugee-relief-childrens-education-assistance-program/
This is one of our longest-running assistance programs out here, and has produced some of the most enduring opportunities to have open doors with families, share the love of Christ, and help their children gain an education instead of being exploited as a child laborer on the streets.
What Difference Does Schooling Make?
The common outcome for most Syrian children is the lack of an education, or not completing schooling beyond the elementary level, and then being sent to work on the streets as a child laborer. This can include heavy manual labor in quarries, factories, warehouses, and so on. Begging and selling small items like tissues, water bottles or gum on busy and dangerous city streets. Long hours with little pay as runners for stores, restaurants, etc… And that doesn’t include the most abusive and exploitative outcomes, things too evil to even write on this blog.
A recent study by World Vision found that in our host country, as of 2021 over 20% of Syrian families had at least one child engaged as a child laborer, and about 70% of families had school aged kids that were not able to be enrolled in school for various reasons (usually lack of local school capacity, inability of the family to afford transport, books, materials, etc…).
The situation has only worsened in 2023. Many more families are putting their kids to work to help pay the bills for ever-climbing food and rent costs, rather than having them at school and costing them money for books, tuition, materials, transport, etc…
Being able to help sponsor these children to go to one of the Christian-run education programs in our mountain area is for many families the only way their children will get an education. It gives them a future, and keeps them off the streets. It provides them a daily meal at lunch too, something important in a country where UNICEF reports at least 30% of children here go to bed hungry or skip at least one meal in the day due to a lack of food in the house.
Current Opportunities to Help as a Sponsor
Our general policy in times of need is to pray and let the Lord know first, and wait to see His provision. However, we also acknowledge it’s not wrong to make certain needs known at times, especially when we’ve had multiple people who receive these updates ask us to let them know when there was a specific opportunity to help like this!
We don’t want to see these children unable to continue their schooling this year. Making this need known is done on behalf of the dozens of Syrian refugee and poor local families relying on TGI to help their kids stay in school this year. Costs have gone up in all schools across the country, in our case on average of 50% more than last year, and we currently do not have the ability to secure all children a place in their school programs this year.
We are about 30 monthly sponsors short to cover all needs for all existing kids and commitments for the 2023/2024 school year.
Sponsors typically commit to provide $100/mo for tuition costs for the EAP kids, to pray for the child regularly, and (optionally if you have the time) to write them a letter each semester, and they also write to you. We also use EAP money given over the summer months when school isn’t in session to help buy books at the start of the school year (an additional cost aside from tuition).
If you want to be a sponsor for a child you can contact us here: https://www.thirstyground.org/eap-sponsor-form/
This current need doesn’t include many other new children on our waiting list, hoping to be enrolled this year for the first time. We are currently trying to make sure we can get the costs covered for existing EAP kids to continue their schooling, before accepting any new kids. The opportunities to expand and reach new families are many, if there are enough sponsors to even cover new additions this year!
Other Ways To Help Beyond Sponsoring
If you aren’t able to sponsor a child each month, or you are already sponsoring a child (thank you if so!) there’s other ways you can help if you want to do so:
- You can let others know about this need who may want to become EAP sponsors by forwarding them this article or sharing this attached PDF with information on the EAP: EAP Project Highlight
- There’s a need for one-time donations for school books for the 2023/2024 school year. This averages about $150-$200 per child. If you want to give to help one or more children with books, you can do so with a one-time EAP donation online here: Online EAP Donation Link
- There’s also a need for one-time donations for backpacks and uniforms. Backpacks cost around $10. Uniforms are typically $30-$50 per child. If you want to give to help one or more children with book bags or uniforms, you can do so with a one-time EAP donation online here: Online EAP Donation Link
- If you feel you are unable to do anything else, you can pray with us for these children throughout the year! Their needs far surpass that of just a good education, and our prayer is that the EAP may be used of the Lord to help them know Him and His truth.
Thank you for your prayers and consideration of this need. We pray the Lord’s will be done in this, but at least now this need is known for those who have wanted to help, but didn’t know how to do so.
Thank you as well to those who have endured faithfully over the years sponsoring different children. If you could only see them and the difference it’s made in their lives! May the Lord reward you in this, as it takes faith to give to help a child you never see and may never know.
Feel free to share the 2023 EAP project highlight sheet below as you feel led, you can also download a high-res PDF of it here at this link: EAP Project Highlight PDF