We may not have the presence or bank account of major relief organizations, but we have hearts that have been personally touched by the faces of kids whose lives have been turned upside down. And having seen that, we’ve been moved to act, to do something.
We’ve eaten in the makeshift homes, and held the cold, dirty hands, and heard the coughs of sick little lungs. We know that there are many needs and many ways to improve the day-to-day living of these people who have been targeted by hate and forced into a way of life that we wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Displaced child singing happily during art class
But we choose to squint into the future and realize that while clothes and food might make today a little better, education will look to the future; it gives a promise for tomorrow and makes today worth living, growling stomach or no.
TentED and EDGE have joined forces, knowing that together we can accomplish more. With over 2 million kids out of school across Iraq, 600,000 who’ve already missed a full year of school, we are stepping in and filling the gaps that we can. We are humble enough to know we can’t change the world, but we’re brave enough to try.
So this fall, TentED and EDGE will work together to open up a second session of our Child-Friendly Educational Space for some of the many, many children who came and registered their names on our waitlist when we opened the Haven Center for 53 displaced kids this summer.
The Haven Center has become a bright place in the community, serving displaced kids living in unfinished buildings or tents settled along the edge of town where our building is located. The kids come four days a week for language, exercise, art therapy, character lessons, and – the highlight for some – a healthy snack.
The author, Kylie Barker, embracing one of the children in the program
Our staff and volunteers welcome them in and love them, standing in as surrogate brothers and sisters, providing a much needed sense of relief, normalcy, and security.
The kids are learning, but more than that they are growing in confidence, believing that the future really might be bright if they put their minds to it. Forgetting for a few hours a week the darkness that has engulfed so much of their lives, they are living like kids. The work that we do is replacing their nightmares with dreams of friends and art and smiles and hugs.
Our vision for these kids is that one day, a problem will stand before them and they’ll be humble enough to know they can’t change the world, but be brave enough to try. This is at the heart of why we work so hard to bring education to children, even in the midst of extreme challenges.
Together, we hope to fill a few gaps, mend a few hurts, and alter the trajectory of life for the kids in our care.