Post Script #2 from St. John’s Church, Beverly Farms, MA (2017)
In partnership with NuDay Syria, for the benefit of residents in Camp Freedom and Camp Atmeh in Jissr-Shughour, Syria
Broadening the Focus
“…it is with growing humility and a sincere, heartfelt motivation that we continue this mission.”
Over the past year, we have accepted several invitations to speak about our mission to partner churches within and outside our Diocese. All have asked how they can help and several have made thoughtful suggestions. At this time, we have increased to approximately 50 churches, schools, and organizations making donations to this mission effort. This mission goes beyond the North Shore of Boston. We are supported by interested parishes from Worcester, the South Shore, Merrimack Valley, and Boston proper. We continue to reach out to other churches and community organizations to develop support for this global mission.
We have also attended the New England Muslim Festival for the past two years at the invitation of Wafaa Wahabi, member of the American Muslim Center Mosque in Everett, Massachusetts. We have sustained a strong relationship with the NuDay Syria founder Nadia Alawa meeting on a regular basis. Nadia has kept us informed of the most recent events occurring at both Freedom Camp, site of NuDay Syria Grammar School and Camp Atmeh, site of Future Generation Girls High School inside Syria.
Summary update: This time a High School
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6
St. John’s continues to support Camp Freedom in Jissr Shughour, which has reached a capacity of approximately 42,000 displaced women and children. Recently, conditions in Damascus and Aleppo have necessitated the growth of Camp Atmeh, a refugee camp, just outside Sarmada, Syria to accommodate approximately 40,000 newly arrived displaced persons. There is a great need for a high school that will focus on young women seeking an education who have no options to complete their schooling past the middle school.
It is recognized that there are cultural differences within Syria, as well as physical and psychological challenges that these displaced persons face living in a war zone. As a result, it is with growing humility and a sincere, heartfelt motivation that we continue this mission. The recent changing political climate in the United States regarding immigration from targeted Middle Eastern countries further contributes to our drive to support the worst refugee crisis since WW II. The women and children in Freedom Camp as well as those in the new Camp Atmeh are very thankful for our multifaceted support during this refugee crisis, now in its seventh year. Due to security issues inside Syria and the need to protect the displaced refugees in the camps, it is extremely difficult at this time for St. John’s Syrian Refugee Mission to communicate directly with any persons either by internet or postage mail. Therefore, relationship building will be limited to the local council representatives, Wael Ibrahim of Camp Freedom and Noor Hemour of Camp Atmeh.
With the help of a second Mission tithe Matching Grant, we continue to work with NuDay Syria to help organize the new Future Generation High School in Samarda, Syria. This high school focuses on young women who have completed the middle school. Education at a higher level has been difficult to find inside Syria, and this educational opportunity will allow the girls to obtain high school certification. It is the hope of the NuDay Syria to expand the opportunities for Syria’s youth to build their country and funnel their energy on a dedicated and much needed demographic - young women. If this program meets expectations, then opening the program to adolescent boys is a possibility.
On a sustainable level, the school will employ approximately 20 certified teachers from local and IDP (internal displaced person) populations. This ensures that both teachers and students regain a sense of self-worth and opportunity to rebuild their country, while simultaneously ensuring that they are sustainable breadwinners for their families. Teacher salaries are a responsibility of the funding capacity of the local counsel in Syria.
Future Generation Girls High School opened September 16, 2017 to 149 female students in grades 6-10, and 26 faculty and staff. It is widely recognized that Syria’s refugee children are lacking the appropriate education to ensure their country’s future. In particular, future plans of the Syrian Refugee Mission are to continue to support the grammar school in Camp Freedom and the Future Generation Girls High School in Samarda,, Syria. Providing funds for a Computer Lab at the high school is a related project along with donations of back packs and school supplies. We continue to meet with Nadia Alawa on a regular basis to discuss the ongoing needs inside these two refugee camps.
Working with refugees here in our own region:
Our relationship has notably expanded beyond our partnership with Nadia Alawa, founder of NuDay Syria. We continue to support refugees living in the North Shore area. One, a refugee from Sudan, was donated a car over the summer of 2017 to provide transportation for work. This donation was aided with the help of Landmark School’s automotive program. Prior to this donation, two members of our Syrian Refugee Mission committee provided transportation to this refugee’s work place. Another family from Iraq has been provided with rent money in partnership with Ipswich Refugee Project. There is an ongoing relationship with Ipswich Refugee Project to support this family.
Empowerment is reflected in the fact that the Sudanese family is able to be independent and to have improved living conditions. The Iraqi husband has recently acquired his driver’s license as well as employment. He continues to seek the donation of a car. In regards to the NuDay Syria mission, we have collected varied donations consisting of fabric, sewing machines, notions, and yarn. This will further the advancement for Syrian women and girls to form a cottage industry for making clothes and knitted items. And efforts to build a computer lab at the new High School will allow students to complete the last two years of their education so that they can graduate eligible to attend university.