Today’s post is written by CAMA worker Brian Burns.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
A school, which has been formed by the Alliance church in Mafraq, Jordan, serves as a refuge for 162 Syrian kids and their dreams.
The problem is not getting them there but keeping them there.
A 10-year-old girl, who is regularly visited by church volunteers, lives with her aunts and her grandmother. She was outside with her two sisters when a bomb hit her home in Syria. The sisters were killed, and her mother, father, and other siblings died inside the house. She was burned on her arm and back and has had virtually no medical treatment because she lacks papers to document her identity.
When asked if the girl is attending school, the grandmother said no. The grandmother is illiterate and doesn’t see the need. If somehow this girl is allowed by her grandmother to enter the school, she wouldn’t be the first burn victim.
Three years ago, I met a family of ten who had barely escaped Syria and were struggling to survive in Jordan. Three of the girls were severely burned when a rocket hit their home in Syria, setting off a propane tank in their kitchen.
It was clear that the youngest girl, five at the time, would not be able to recover from her wounds without serious skin grafting. I worked with another child advocate to get her and her next older sister the needed surgeries by a qualified surgeon pro-bono.
After the first two rounds of extensive facial reconstruction surgeries for the girls, I asked our principal to enroll the older sister in the school. She stayed for a semester but had to leave school for more surgeries. She will not be coming back to school for now, but a Christian woman who advocates for her asked for the books so she can study in the hospital.
In another family of school hopefuls, a 10-year-old boy works all day at a restaurant to earn the family’s rent payment. He is a smart boy but neither of his parents is literate. In this case, the parents feel school is important for their children, but they are unable to assist him with his homework at all.
Another family has twin 12-year-old boys who spent most of their summer hauling rice, sugar, and flour bags on their backs. They worked 12 hour days for 7 days a week. Eventually, the boys were laid off because of their complaints of back pain. Their mother believed that by working at least they were off the streets. One church volunteer had an opportunity to take the boys swimming in their rare free time. They were beyond excited.
Traumatized. Burned. Overworked. The Devil’s playground.
Sometimes I question why we as a church decided to start a school in such a difficult and dark place. Each year, our students are pulled away by forces that are too strong for them to fight against. However, at the same time, the school has a long waiting list. Some parents are trying to move into the neighborhood of the school in hopes that their children can attend.
We as the Alliance church are trying to stand firm to win back the territory of the Devil’s playground. I’ll admit it’s difficult to dream dreams in the Devil’s playground, but I trust and I have seen the Lord hasn’t forgotten the children’s dreams.