Students at Orem School near Aleppo with their ShelterBox school materials (via implementing partners Hand in Hand for Syria)
Children whose families are on the run from conflict in Syria have been described as a generation lost to education. ShelterBox is helping to bring refugee children back into the classroom.
In the last four years, up to a fifth of Syria’s school buildings have been destroyed, militarized, or pressed into service as refugee shelters for families displaced from their homes.
A report published last month by Save the Children said that Syria, a country which once had a 100% school enrolment rate, now has 2.8 million children out of school, the second worst attendance rate in the world. It also reported that almost half of refugee families rely partly or entirely on income from sending their school-age children to work.
This education crisis, described by some as creating a potential “lost generation,” is just one aspect of years of unrest in Syria, where an estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced. With long-term partner charity Hand in Hand for Syria, ShelterBox has been sending truckloads of aid deep into Syria, containing tents, shelter repair kits, mosquito nets, water filters and carriers, blankets, groundsheets and solar lamps.
Aleppo is Syria’s largest city and its industrial and financial center. It is also one of world’s oldest continually inhabited cities, mentioned in Egyptian texts from the 20th Century BC. But these days it is a city divided, where intensive aerial bombing of rebel-held parts of the city has caused thousands of casualties, and an exodus to country areas.
ShelterBox Chief Executive Alison Wallace says, “One can only imagine what life is like for families in Aleppo and elsewhere across war-torn Syria. Their youngest children have known nothing but war in their short lives.
“The scale of need is vast, but I am immensely proud of ShelterBox’s ability to reach a helping hand into this hostile environment. These photos show the difference our aid is making, with the help of our generous supporters and our distributing partner. It is so rewarding to be able to put smiles on these children’s faces.”
Distinctive red and blue SchoolBoxes contain essential supplies for teachers, including wind-up radios that also charge mobile phones, and school equipment for 50 children. They also include blackboard paint and a brush – these two items alone can transform any flat surface into a focus for learning. School packs, in bright yellow material bags, contain stationery, pens, calculators, drawing and math equipment. They are often a source of pride for young people who have lost most of their personal possessions.