Tarek’s Story: Children Caught in the Conflict


Though news coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis has come in waves, the mass exodus of Syrians to other countries has not slowed since a vicious civil war began in 2011. While we often hear of those fleeing to Europe, more than 2 million people are currently living as refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, which both share borders with Syria. One of the areas that is most important for children living as refugees is schooling. Many children lost out on years of education while in Syria, and school is not a given in the countries where they now live. But education is not only critical to ensure a healthy future for children, but it’s also vital in times of displacement. Along with social inclusion, school can help children heal from the trauma they’ve experienced by offering a safe, stable environment when stability is scarce. With education and support, hope for a future becomes possible again.

This is why Nazarene schools in Lebanon and Jordan have been proving scholarships for refugee children. They’re helping children haunted by conflict hold on to hope for a better future. This year’s NCM Christmas Project will provide additional scholarships to give safety and stability to children caught in conflict.

 Over the next few days, we will share the stories of children who have already benefitted from these scholarships.

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Tarek* and his family fled from Syria when they began to fear for their lives. When they arrived in Amman, Jordan, a couple of years ago, they were exhausted, homeless, and out of money.

Tarek, now age 11, shares, “Actually, I was destroyed from the inside out.”

Most children in Syria have been traumatized by war, bombings, and fear. When Tarek arrived in Jordan, his trauma manifested through speech disorders and mumbling. He says those problems made him an easy target for bullies in his new neighborhood.

For days at a time, Tarek would hide inside his home, too afraid and embarrassed to go out. Finally, his father persuaded him to begin going to school.

“Fortunately, the Nazarene school was the nearest to my house,” Tarek says.

There, Tarek experienced friendship that began to turn things around, and bullies no longer troubled him.

“You won't know how difficult it is to go to school and be a fourth grader without attending the previous grades,” he says. “But thanks to the teachers who motivated and encouraged me in many different ways.”

Today, Tarek is a 5th grader who is doing well in school and feeling hopeful for the future.

“Thanks for the Nazarene school for helping me to feel that I'm still a human being,” he says.

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Tarek’s story is possible because of a scholarship. This year’s NCM Christmas Project will provide more scholarships so children like Tarek can experience healing and hold on to hope for the future.

To support the NCM Christmas Project, go to ncm.org/Christmas.

(*All children’s names have been changed for their protection and safety.)