Amid the instability and humanitarian crisis still plaguing Syria, a spark of hope shines from a children’s center in Damascus, where teachers use SAT-7 KIDS programs and songs to provide a life-giving curriculum to children who have witnessed conflict and gone through the upheaval of displacement.
Many people in 2020 are asking, “Where is God? Why is He letting these things happen? How can we have hope for the future? What could happen next?” These questions have been prevalent in the hearts of millions affected by the pandemic, unemployment, and increasing poverty. But in Syria, a once-thriving country reduced to devastation, people have been asking the same questions for almost a decade.
Yet even in the darkness of conflict and displacement, despair is turning to hope. At a children’s center in Damascus, where Christian teachers work with displaced families, children and parents are experiencing transformation.
“One mother first came to the center full of fear,” says Sarah, a teacher at the center. “But after two months, one day she said, ‘What are you teaching my son? He is full of joy – he’s changed so much! I want what my child has.’ She was asking these questions because her son came home every day full of joy and hope and shared what he learned with his family.”
At the center, where usually 50 families attend for six months at a time, teachers use SAT-7 KIDS programming in their curriculum. “We play episodes or songs about a topic such as forgiveness, or trusting God, and then we discuss the topic with the children,” says Sarah. During the pandemic, the center has continued to work with children attending in small groups or individually with their parents. “Sometimes, we spend time with parents, helping them understand what their kids are learning and what they are feeling. Some parents say to us, ‘We only find peace when we sit here with you.’” Many parents, Sarah shares, have become Christians after seeing the change in their children.
RIPPLES OF HOPE
Often, children arrive at the center struggling with the impact of the upheaval they have experienced. “Many kids are unable to share or express their feelings,” shares Sarah. “Others have adopted habits and beliefs that keep them from feeling happiness and joy.” She describes a child who was afraid to say “Good morning” because he had been taught that tempting fate in this way would cause God to set him on fire. “This is what they learn from their own families–to fear God, and that He hates them,” Sarah explains.
But through play-based engagement and teaching about God’s love, the children’s harmful beliefs gradually melt away. Sarah describes the change in one boy who initially behaved very aggressively toward the other children. “After two weeks, his mother told me that the boy goes home and teaches his siblings everything he learns here. She said, ‘I gave you one child, and he changed the whole family!’”
SUPPORT CHILDREN IN SYRIA
Along with beaming God’s love into family homes across the Middle East, SAT-7 aims to provide educational content that gives hope to distressed children and families, helping them grow through God’s nurturing love.
- Please pray for children and families in Syria. Even though there is still so much work to be done to restore the country, pray that throughout these difficulties, families will witness God’s love and provision in their lives and will feel at peace, knowing that God loves them and is for them.
- Please pray that God will continue to open doors for SAT-7’s programs to be used by centers and NGOs serving those in need on the ground.
- Thank God for young adults like Sarah, who, despite the risk of the pandemic and continuing violence, are choosing to stay in Syria and serve their community, helping to change the future of the region one child at a time.