#BooksNotBombs and Refugee Education

Karam Foundation has hosted its previous Innovative Education missions in Reyhanli, Turkey, a sleepy town along the Syrian-Turkish border. A large number of Syrian refugees live there now, with many more arriving daily, fleeing the violence in Syria. There, we have borne witness to Syrian refugee children’s resilience and their eagerness to learn. These children could be Syria’s next generation of lawyers, doctors, architects and journalists if given the opportunity.

Their excitement and willingness to learn is evident in how they approach all of the workshops. Wassim Al-Adel, a mentor on Karam’s latest Innovative Education mission, noted this in his philosophy workshops. After a few days of nudging the students along to think about philosophy, and the students began to vigorously debate ideas that he had presented to them. Just imagine what these students are capable of if given the right opportunities.

Unfortunately, school has become a luxury that most Syrian refugees cannot afford; many families cannot afford to send their children to school instead needing their children to be wage-earners, often working days longer than 12 hours for a minimal wage. For those still in Syria, barrel bombs, random shelling, and warfare have now destroyed the schools that their children once attended. Others still are unable to enroll in schools because they have no access to them. This not only means they lag behind in their education but also paints a dim picture for their futures. Without school, children find themselves in a violent cycle of poverty.

For the students graduating from the Turkish educational system or the make-shift Syrian educational system in Turkey, their future is also limited. Many of them cannot afford to continue their studies after high school. Providing scholarships for qualified students can drastically change their lives for the better. These scholarships can go towards covering books and board, as well as tuition. By making it financially possible for these students to attain their goals, one would ensure that they have a future no matter where they are and will lift them out of cycles of poverty and despair.

While the world fails to stop the fighting in Syria and the current exodus, we can help its students keep the fire of their dreams alive. The Books Not Bombs campaign aims to push colleges in the U.S. to offer scholarships to Syrian students, enabling them to receive a safe and quality education. This is the most practical and effective thing that universities can do to protect Syria’s future generations and aid in the resettlement of refugees in the United States.

Karam Foundation is proud to have partnered with STAND, The Syria Campaign, and Students Organize for Syria to promote scholarships for Syrian refugees. To be involved with the campaign, access the student tool-kit, and sign your university's petition, please visit the website.