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Christian charity helps fill education gap for children in war-torn Syria

by Tola Mbakwe

Christian charity Open Doors is helping by partnering with churches to organise educational programmes for children.

These churches have become Centres of Hope: 16 such centres are already established across Syria, through which Open Doors is providing vital aid for 12,000 vulnerable families, alongside the educational programmes. 

Claire Page from the charity told Premier about the scale of the issue.

"40 per cent of the schools in Syria have been destroyed or damaged during the conflict. So there's two million children who are out of school. That's a huge percentage," she said.

In the Centre of Hope in the town of Mashta al-Helou, around 250 children participate in the activities and many of them attend English lessons.

Apart from the English lessons three days a week, children attend music classes and spiritual lessons as well as participating in various games and activities.

"We want to invest in the children, in their future but also in their spiritual life," Noura, a volunteer teacher, said.

"We see that the activities are helpful for the children; we see them change. What motivates me to do this work is that I want to help these children. But I also see how serving them has a positive effect on me. When I teach the children about God, I personally grow in my faith."

Another Centre of Hope located in the St George Catholic Church in Aleppo also focuses on children's education.

The classes take place in the Al-Inaya School, held in the two wings of the church.

92 children attend the classes during the afternoons. Small groups of students can get extra lessons in subjects with which they need help, such as Arabic, English, French, Mathematics and Chemistry.

Some of the schools also have a psychologist who works with such children as the violent conflict continues.

The staff, too, offer psychological support alongside education, creating a safe and welcoming environment for children.

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