“What am I doing here? I feel sorry for myself. Before I sleep at night I imagine I’m in school studying in class, then my parents pick me up and we go home and live in peace.”
"I used to go to school in Quaraqosh… I wish I could go back. When I grow up I want to be a doctor so that when people are sick, I can help them."
These are the words of refugee children interviewed by SAT-7; the first, Karema* from Syria, pictured above, now living in a refugee camp in Lebanon; the second, Mubarak, pictured at bottom, who was driven out of his home town in Iraq by Islamic State militants last year.
They are among the 13.4 million children across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) who cannot go to school because of conflict. This is 40% of school-age children from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Sudan. (UNICEF, Sept 2015)
Some of them are trapped in war zones, where school buildings have been destroyed and it is too dangerous for them to go outside. Others have had to leave their homes and everything they know behind. They miss their school and their friends.
Education is key to this. Not being able to go to school and to learn leaves children bored, frustrated and eventually embittered. They are vulnerable to child labour, early marriage and recruitment by militant groups.
Because millions of children across MENA cannot go to school, SAT-7 is bringing school to them – wherever they are – via satellite TV.
The routine of these regular lessons is bringing an element of normality and stability into young lives that have been turned upside down. My School is also preparing children to be able to go back to a physical school in future, either in their host or home country.
We know from visiting refugee camps and other displaced communities that many have access to satellite TV already, but we plan to install dishes and TVs in others that don’t to make My School – and our other life-changing programmes – available to as many people as possible.
SAT-7 is working in partnership with a Christian NGO, Heart for Lebanon, which runs schools in refugee camps. Their Executive Director Camille Melki said:
“By providing an education for the refugee children we are restoring their hope for a better tomorrow. We are moving a community of young kids from total despair to hope.”
This ambitious project is expensive. We need to raise over £1million to fund the production and broadcast of the new series of My School. Churches, Christian trusts and organisations – and even governments – throughout the world are contributing to make this happen, but we need all our supporters to get behind this project and give whatever they can.
Rita Elmounayer, SAT-7 KIDS executive director, said:
“In providing education to this lost generation of refugees from Syria and Iraq, we are investing not just in their future but in the future of the Arab World. Teaching them to read and write is giving them the possibility to learn and to be exposed to different points of view, to find jobs and ultimately to shape societies and make all the difference for future democracy in the Arab World.”
Watching the terrible conflicts and resultant refugee crisis unfold on our news bulletins can leave us feeling overwhelmed and powerless to help. What hope is there for MENA’s children? But supporting My School is something you can do that will make a difference to the lives of the next generation of the Arab world.
This imaginative programme has the potential to raise the hopes, aspirations and achievements of millions of children affected by the fighting across the region. As well as being shown on SAT-7 KIDS, which broadcasts across MENA, My School is also going to be on SAT-7 PLUS, a channel that can be watched in Europe, from next month. Refugee families who are re-settling in Europe will therefore be able to access the programme, enabling the children to continue learning while they adapt to a new culture and language.
We need your support - double or treble your impact!
Would you consider a gift to help fund My School and bring the hope that education offers to the next generation of the Arab world? Your impact could be doubled or trebled at no extra cost to you by a generous Christian trust that strongly believes in SAT-7’s ministry. They will match one-off gifts (over and above the amount you gave in the previous 12 months) 1:1 and regular gifts 1:2 for a year. So a gift of £20 will become £40; a monthly Direct Debit/Standing Order of £20 will become £720 over the course of a year! Please don’t miss this opportunity to double – or even treble – your impact on MENA’s children.GIVE TO THE