Returning What War has Stolen to Refugee Children

Layla didn’t begin life in Iraq. She and her family came because of war. She tells us of her early years in Syria “Our life was good and beautiful before, and we were living a very normal life with relatives and friends. I am always dreaming of going back to Syria.”

The room is buzzing with activity. A teacher and assistants make their way from table to table, checking in on each student. Layla and her friends come to this center in the refugee camp for a break from daily life at home. They come after school for help with their homework. And they come to stretch their creativity with handicrafts that they would have learned at home in Syria.

“My favorite thing to do at the center is drawing. It is a place of dreams!” Layla has found a space where she and her two best friends–all displaced by war–can spend time together. Even more than that, she has found a place to catch up on what war might have stolen.

Young people displaced by the war with ISIS take in an English class. Photo by Charlene Winfred/Preemptive Love

Displaced youth have unique needs when it comes to catching up with their peers. Many refugees lose multiple years of school between fleeing war and finding stability. Not only that, but many find refuge in places where the language is different than what they grew up speaking.

So by the time families have caught their breath, these young people discover they’re years behind in their education, need to learn the local language, and somehow need to learn the new technology that developed while they were worried about surviving.

You are able to help youth displaced by war to catch up on what they missed, bridge the gap when there are language differences, and learn the skills they need to move forward.

The center Layla visits every day provides so many essential educational bridges:

Fluency in the local language

Language fluency gives kids a sense of belonging in their foreign host community, and opens up a wide range of opportunities they would miss out on if they don’t understand what’s spoken around them.

Critical, intensive exam preparation

Exams are very important in Iraq and all of schooling is geared toward these tests. Exam placement determines what—or if—you can go on to study after high school!

Lesson review and tutoring

Crowded, underserved schools are challenging learning environments! Giving kids the time and space to go over material and receive extra guidance is crucial to their education.

English courses

Conversational English and grammar courses are taught by a native speaker, which allows students to improve their language skills. English comprehension also enables students to access more resources online.

Intensive remedial support

Some children have been out of school for too long to attend normal schools and need help catching back up. For other older students, returning to a regular classroom just isn’t going to happen at this point in life. But they still have a need for skills and education.

Layla quietly works on an art project, grateful for the space, supplies, and encouragement.

Layla and her friends are making the most of opportunities at the center. They have found support and encouragement. And they have found hope that they can pursue their dreams.

“I really want to learn more and be more creative through getting help from the center and especially my teacher. I dream of becoming an architect in the future so I can go back to Syria and build it up through my work in drawing… Syria is beautiful.”

You can help a generation of Syrian and Iraqi children return to school, catch up on their studies, and heal from the trauma of war.