Middle East: School for Iraqi Children
Christian children forced to flee Iraq after the Islamic State invasion began school this week for the first time in a year. With VOM's help, a local church is stepping in to help refugee children continue their schooling.
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After fleeing their homes, families left everything behind, including schooling. Many of the Iraqi refugee children have been out of school for a year. Their host countries do not have the capacity to provide schooling for the sudden influx of thousands of children. A local church leader and VOM partner noticed the need in his community, and because they "believe education is so important to the child," they began to dream of opening a school. Their goal was to begin with approximately 25 students.
The church leaders prayed for a suitable location near a refugee camp and soon, "God showed us a close house with a big back yard."Though it would need many renovations before it was safe, church leaders discovered that it would accommodate four classrooms with enough space for at least 20 students in each classroom.
In mid-June, the leaders presented their vision to the Iraqi parents. The team shared their educational goals, including that the Christian school wanted to "bring the love of God to every house through the children." The parents were eager to fill out applications, and the school got more students than they expected.
"The plan we had in the beginning was to start with 25 kids, but we had around 100 kids register," a VOM partner said. "This is a big challenge, but God is good."
Students in kindergarten and first grade lined up for their first day of school June 16. The teachers had to dry a few tears as some children were anxious about being away from their parents. Before long, the children were participating in classroom activities in the new chairs and tables brought in by the church. The children also have a safe play area with a canopy for shade from the sun and protection from the rain.
The school will continue to teach children and offer a safe place to learn, and the VOM partner hopes that it will be a way to share the love of Christ with the Iraqi refugees.