Getting an Education in Resilience

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It’s back-to-school time. The summer is winding down, and that means getting used to the old routine again. You may be waking up a little earlier to help the kids catch a bus, packing lunches the night before or settling down at the kitchen table to do homework.

But for many of the people we serve overseas, there is no routine. They do not know if they will eat lunch tomorrow. There is no transportation to school except for their own feet. In some cases, there is no school at all, and “homework” consists of child labor to help their families survive financially.

Here at CRS, we get an education in resilience every day. The people we serve do the extraordinary to make the best of their ordinary. Parents aren’t giving up on their children’s education or future, and neither are we.

Children wait for school to start in Laos. Photo by Mark Metzger/CRS
Children wait for school to start in Laos. Photo by Mark Metzger/CRS

In Iraqi Kurdistan, for example, more than 2,000 children are finding a bit of normalcy during the day in CRS child support centers. These children, displaced after ISIS forced them from their homes, are able to laugh again.

It’s estimated about 65% of displaced children do not attend school because there is no place for them in classrooms. But in the child-friendly centers, children are able to learn, play and just be kids. Parents get support too—and see positive changes in their children during very difficult times.

The situation is similar in Gaza. Conflict destroyed buildings and infrastructure, but not ambition and goals. Approximately 40% of Gaza’s kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools were damaged during the summer of 2014. But there are still people like Ibrahim Abu Amsha, who rebuilt his kindergarten through CRS’ cash-for-work program. Ibrahim knew that by rebuilding, children would get an education, the psychological support they need and a tangible image of hope.

Elsewhere, parents are becoming toy makers to educate their children. An estimated one-third of children under age 5—some 200 million—fail to meet their developmental potential. For families that need to focus their energy on securing food, shelter, medicine and clothing, toys may be seen as a luxury. But with CRS’ help, families in parts of Africa have come to realize that toys stimulate minds and engage imaginations. Parents are educating themselves about the value of toys and using odds and ends—cans, buttons and boxes—to construct learning tools for their children.

People all over the world are benefiting from your kindness and prayers. Your commitment to CRS helped bring the gift of  education to 3.5 million people last year. And every day we all become a little bit smarter by getting to know them and their resilient spirit.