In addition to spreading its pen-pal program, Help Syria’s Kids is collaborating with universities, educational institutions and refugee aid organizations to provide educational programs, transformative workshops as well as food and basic needs for Syrian refugees living in Lebanon.
The refugee children living in a makeshift camp in Ketermaya fled their Syrian homes, many walking over 400km to this dusty mountain top village. These children crave education, but most haven’t had access to public school programs in Lebanon. Help Syria's Kids has organized non-formal education courses in English, Arabic, Social Sciences and Math. This enables the children who haven’t been in school, a chance to catch up to their peers so they can enter local public-school programs that are becoming available for refugees. Extra-curricular activities for art, music and dance are also organized to help children express themselves and to cope with extraordinary levels of trauma.
Food, water, fuel and medicine are in serious deficit for the families and children living in refugee camps like Ketermaya. It’s very difficult for children to learn when they are hungry, thirsty or sick. Currently vats of water are delivered each day but the quantity does not meet their daily needs and the water must be boiled before drinking. Food is not plentiful or balanced making the coping skills of the children and families living in refugee camps even more challenging. Lack of fuel means light and heat are not available in evenings, during the most critical times of need.
Sanitation, sewage management and pest control are also in dire need to support a healthy environment. Lack of rodent control results in children being bitten at night exposing them to the risk of disease and infection. Risk of cholera and other life-threatening illnesses are prevalent as a result of the poor conditions of the camps, while medicine and medical aid is sparse and administered for only the most desperate of needs.
A monthly $29 donation supports our efforts to provide more food, water, fuel and hygiene to these refugees living in Ketermaya. When we combine your donation with support from other donors, all the children and families we’re reaching benefit, because their whole environment is being transformed.
Hudson Ketermaya Connection
Hudson, NY has become a beacon for other American cities by expressing love to Syrian refugee children, supporting a path to transform their lives.
The first "pen-pal” program between children of Hudson and children living in Ketermaya has been established to nurture the reading and writing skills of both communities while inspiring hope through the development of friendship.
The first connection through a video call introduced the children of Hudson and Ketermaya in June of 2017. The children discovered quickly that they share a common love for sports, dance, singing songs and even enjoy some of the same foods. Hudson students sent a group letter by post reinforcing their enthusiasm to be connected with their new friends across the world. Each child in the 5th grade at the Montgomery C. Smith Hudson Intermediate School wrote introduction letters to the children in Ketermaya. The Ketermaya children worked with volunteers from AUB (American University of Beirut) to craft responses to their letters. AUB students translated these letters written in Arabic, into English. Translated letters will go back and forth between the children each quarter of the school year.
TOUCHING LETTERS, DRAWINGS AND BOOKS...
from the Montgomery C. Smith 5th grade students were delivered to Lebanon and translated to Arabic for the children. Colorful friendship bracelets with (HKC - insignia - Hudson Ketermaya Connection) hand-made by the 5th grade at MCS Intermediate School were also delivered with love.
Friends of Ketermaya 1,000 Letter Project - read the article
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says over 1.5 million Syrian refugees are living in Lebanon and account for more than a quarter of its population. About one in three Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children.
The 1,000 Letter Project is a joint effort between Help Syria's Kids, a U.S. charity that assists young Syrian refugees in a refugee camp in Ketermaya, Lebanon, and Imagine Workshop and Concert Series (IWCS), a Lebanese art and outreach program spearheaded by the performing arts department at the Lebanese American University (LAU). The letters are written between children in American communities and the Syrian refugee children living in Ketermaya, used as educational tools for reading and writing. Scholarship student volunteers from the American University of Beirut translate the letters from english into arabic leading children to read and write responses in pen-pal workshops held at the Ketermaya refugee camp, in Lebanon. The objective is to inspire education as well as create unity and global awareness between children. These moving and inspirational letters are presented as part of the creative works and concert series performances delivered through the IWCS program.
Imagine Workshop and Concert Series - Lebanese American University (LAU)
Through partnership with the Imagine Workshop and Concert Series (IWCS) founded by Seba Ali, professor at LAU an incredible opportunity to provide music, sound and color workshops on a frequent basis throughout the academic year at LAU. Famous guest musicians travel from all over the world to collaborate and perform with students at LAU, on their residency these musicians along with the leaders of IWCS travel to Ketermaya to hold workshops with the children providing transformative and healing experiences with the children.
Seba Ali holds a Bachelor of Music from Cairo Conservatory, a Professional Performance Certificate from Lynn Conservatory, Master’s of Music and Doctor of Music Arts from Stony Brook University.
AUB Alumni Summer Program
The Center for Civic Engagement & Community Service (CCECS) and Alumni Relations at the American University of Beirut (AUB) invited Help Syria's Kids and (25) of the Syrian refugee children from Ketermaya, Chouf to participate in a peer-to-peer project spanning two weeks at the American University of Beirut campus. This brought together AUB alumni children from North American to engage in cultural discussions and storytelling exchanges with Syrian refugee children of Ketermaya. This was an absolute dream opportunity and we could not have been more grateful to realize this for these kids.
The objective was to provide space for peers to develop cultural understanding and create lasting friendships that go beyond the program. Being on the ground with our partners at AUB bridged many more relationships and partners to help the Syrian refugee children and families of Ketermaya.
Help Syria’s Kids (HSK) is working with the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) through the American University of Beirut (AUB) to realize informal learning programs for the children at the Syrian Refugee camp in Ketermaya. Through (CCECS) scholarship students at AUB apply to participate on a volunteer basis with HSK to deliver programs aligned with curriculum of local public schools plus pen-pal writing workshops and other extra curricular activities such as art, games and sports to help nurture healing and transformation for the children.
Our objective is to help bridge children at Ketermaya who have missed years of school, to catch up on education so by age 6 when they may enter available public school programs, they can do so aligned with their age levels. In parallel, AUB graduate student volunteers are providing tutoring programs to help Ketermaya students already attending public school programs do better in their classes by helping them with studies and course work where they are falling behind in school.
Our next step is to improve the make shift school huts by developing an education and community center space for the children and community. Zones for reading and thought, hands on activities and classroom interaction will provide needed spaces to nurture education for the children in a productive environment. Young women will have a safe space to build community and help transform their lives through women's health sessions, child care, skills training and opportunities to earn income.
The team at AUB has won many international awards for design and function of spaces such as these. One example, the Ghata Project received high achievement awards including the SXSW 2018 Design Award.
You can donate today to help us realize this transformative opportunity for the Syrian refugee families and children living at Ketermaya.
Food and Basic Hygiene Supplies
As a result of generous donors and aid organizations we’re working with in Lebanon, multiple deliveries of food and basic hygiene supplies have been provided for the 58 Syrian refugee families living in Ketermaya over the past 12 months. Food packages include dry goods as well as produce, whole chickens & ground meat, eggs, cheese, yogurt and canned food items. Hygiene items such as cleaning supplies, soap, toothpaste, diapers for infants & toddlers and wipes as well as sanitary needs for women and teen girls have been donated as well. Clothing and shoes have also been donated by various organizations we’ve mobilized to provide needed supplies to the families.
Hudson First Presbyterian Church
Ongoing donations have provided many food and other supplies and needs for the Syrian Refugee Camp in Ketermaya.
In April 2017, 134 School supply packages of writing paper, coloring books, whiteboard tablets, pens and pencils & crayons and markers were purchased by generous donors and interfaith friends and neighbors. Tote bags donated by a New York City children's manufacturer held the supplies and were hand delivered with love to the children in Ketermaya by a parishioner of the First Presbyterian Church of Hudson.
Hudson Muslim Youth
Hudson has made a connection between it's Muslim youth and the Syrian refugee children in Ketermaya, Lebanon. Handmade "Eid" Ramadan cards were created by the Hudson Muslim Youth at the Hudson Community Library and mailed by post to the children in Ketermaya. Receiving words of hope, peace, unconditional love and dreams of some day meeting their Muslim brothers and sisters in Lebanon touched the hearts of these children, 6,000 miles away. Crafted hand-made Ramadan cards were created by the Syrian refugee children in April of 2018 and hand carried to Hudson, NY for the Hudson Muslim Youth, delivered at the Ramadan celebration at Hudson Lodge May 26th 2018.
More Community Donations
Hudson City Library donated boxes of books to support english language education.
Waldorf dolls and warm hats knitted + hand made from the Hawthorne Valley School in the Hudson Valley were gifted to the children.
Sox and friendship pins from the Won Dharma Center in Claverack, NY; the children loved them!
Tiny-books from Kite's Nest students were hand-made and delivered in person.