By: Katie Huish
What does it mean to be born into a refugee camp or in the midst of a civil war all around you? What dynamics do these children face? 51% of refugees are under the age of 18 so what kind of life are these children living as a result of being born into a refugee camp?
A few weeks ago we entered the Beqaa Valley unknowing of what the day would hold. We arrived at a settlement of Syrian refugees whose homes were made from tarps and wood. We were able to speak with many families who were without shame to tell their stories of persecution and war in their home country of Syria.
We first met with a group of women who were all related. Two of the younger women, assuringly their mothers, held small babies, around 4 and 6 months of age.
The babies were very small due to the lack of resources, small amounts of food they were receiving, and the lack of medical support on the ground in Lebanon for these refugee families.
Your first thought is, look at the sweet little baby. Just as though you saw a small child being held by someone here. But then as I took in our surroundings I wondered and I prayed. You wonder what kind of life that child will have - will he or she ever have a “normal” life? One with areas to run and play safely, or with actual toys, rather than scraps found around the camp… You wonder if they will be given enough food - as the aid in the area is fairly sparse and very few organizations are on the ground offering aid. You wonder if they will ever have the opportunity or the access to an education, as there are not any formal schools in these areas for the refugee children, though luckily some organizations like Heart for Lebanon offer an informal learning center. You also wonder what their hopes and dreams will be one day.. In the states you’d think of these as being preference of university or careers, or even owning a home on a lake. But here things are different. Being a refugee changes the dynamics of their lives. The hopes and the dreams of many are to have homes that are all their own, to have schools they can send their children to so that they can actually learn, to have the opportunity to build a career and earn enough of a living to care for your family. These are their hopes and dreams.
After my mind flashes through all of these questions, I pray.
I thank God that these children, while they may lack many resources, will never lack love and care from their families. I thank God that though many of these children have lost one or both parents, their extended family members swoop them up and care for them as their own. I pray for healing in the heavy hearts of all in this setting. I pray that these children will never face deep illness or death due to the lack of resources or care. I pray for comfort for each and every child in these camp settings, that they will one day see the love of Christ and accept it into their hearts. I also pray that the needs will be met, from food to education to medical care that these refugees will be taken in and loved by groups who are enthusiastic to welcome the stranger.
1 Thessalonians 5:18: Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)