On the International Day of Hope, Soutien Belge Overseas has launched an awareness campaign called #GiveHope to promote the importance of education for refugee children.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, nearly 5 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries – and at least half of them are children. With government services overwhelmed, the support of international organisations has become crucial to preventing an entire generation of Syrian children and youth from becoming a lost generation. In Syria, almost 1 in 3 children is out of school (1.75 million children); the situation in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, where only half of all refugee children have access to education, is just as critical.

According to the Invisible Wounds report published earlier this year by Save the Children, an international NGO, “children, parents and caregivers [surveyed in Syria] said the lack of schools and education is taking an enormous toll on children and leaves them fearful for their future”. In neighboring countries, where deprivation, unstable social conditions and lack of economic opportunities are also a reality for refugees, the lack of education is just as problematic. The implications for the psychological state of these children are particularly worrying. Since many Syrian children already suffer from high rates of trauma and toxic stress, a whole generation risks developing further mental health problems such as depression, PTSD or withdrawal from society.

The key to improving the current situation, and the hopes of refugees for a better future, lies in good quality education and psychosocial support. Schools provide the children a safe-space where they can heal, learn and build communities. The school environment constitutes a source of stability and a routine which is essential to normal childhood development. Moreover, it teaches children problem-solving and general coping skills which help them build their resilience and make decisions for their future.

SB Overseas is a Belgian humanitarian non-profit organisation that runs education projects for refugees and victims of conflict. In total, the organisation supports six non-formal education centres in Lebanon and Syria, where children can catch up on the education they missed out on due to war. “When I fled Syria for Lebanon 4 years ago with my family, I did not know how to read and write. Luckily, I enrolled at SB Overseas’ Beirut school shortly after I arrived. Here, I learnt how to read and write, made friends and am able to continue my education just like any other person. It makes me happy because it gives me hope for me and my family” says 12-year-old Shereen.

As a result, the organisation has launch the #GiveHope campaign to promote these schools, and the wider need for education projects in the region. Louma Albik, chairwoman of SB Overseas, calls on everyone to contribute: “By joining this campaign, people can play an active role in supporting access to education and giving hope for a better future to the hundreds of students we support in our schools.” The start date for the campaign was set for April 5th to coincide with the International Day of Hope. SB Overseas invites everyone to join this solidarity movement on social media to support its education projects for refugees.

For more information on the campaign, please head to: https://sboverseas.org/campaigns/givehope/