Charity of the Month: Dar El Awlad School, Lebanon
Dar El Awlad School, Lebanon, provides residential care to thirty-two boys who range in age from 5 to 18, primary education to 75 children, including many day students who come from difficult situations in the surrounding community – without the school many of these children would have little prospect of education.
Dar El Awlad values the education of the whole person, delighting in each individual student’s gifts and talents and aiming to meet the individual’s academic, spiritual, emotional and physical needs of each student. Many of the children have special academic needs due to a lack of early stimulation or education, so the school has classes of just ten children to ensure that they are able to have the support they need to reach their full potential. As well as Arabic, English and Mathematics, the children also study art, music and sports. Each day starts with a Bible story, singing and prayer. After school non-residential children are provided with a meal before returning to their homes.
The Moses Basket Day Centre provides day-care for ten preschoolers, allowing single mums and needy families to make a living while their children are being cared for in a safe environment. The children range from six months to four years old: they arrive early in the morning and can stay until late afternoon. The older children are given the opportunity to learn colours, shaped and letters, and begin to count, as well as participate in a range of games and other activities, including Bible stories and songs.
The School also provides an education programme for thirty Gypsy and Bedouin children between the ages of 5 and 8, at the New Horizons Centre in Zahrani, just south of Sidon. The Centre is a light in a very dark place, bringing a Christian witness to an unreached community. A dental clinic offers free dental care to families. A medical centre will soon open, its first priority a vaccination programme. A sewing project provides vocational training for young women, designed to help them to earn a small income and their families to become more self-sufficient.
The School is also working with ninety refugee children from Syria and their families in a literacy programme, The Oasis. The children are enthusiastic learners, especially in spiritual subjects. The theme is love and forgiveness, a completely different world-view from what these children have grown up with so that, once the conflict has ended, these families will return to their country carrying a message of healing and restoration with them. Encouragingly the programme is now registered with the Lebanese Ministry of Education so that it can issue legal documents to the children certifying the educational level they have achieved when they exit the programme.
For some years Waltham Abbey Church has supported the ten children in the School’s Grade 5 class by annual sponsorship. All these children come from very difficult backgrounds. Thanks to our help and the help of other partners, the School is able to provide these children with a caring, supportive environment in which they can learn. This is making a huge difference in their lives, giving them opportunities that they would not otherwise receive. Hope for Kids International, which oversees support for Dar El Awlad, is very grateful for our support. This sponsorship was formerly made on the Church’s behalf by the DCC, but, in continuing challenging financial times, we are appealing to the church family again to help us to continue this support by contributing to the work of Dar El Awlad School during February.
Please pray for the work of the School and for the ten children in Grade 5 and for the critical work that the School is undertaking with the marginalised in Lebanon and with desperate Syrian refugees and give generously this month in support of that work. There is more information about the school on the display board around the tower staircase; the School’s website is www.hopeforkids.co.uk/lebanon which includes a short video about the School.