Strong Kids, Strong Emotions
On Wednesday we finished the fourth week of the “Strong Kids/Strong Emotions” program for strengthening emotional resiliency in Iraqi refugee kids living in Lebanon. It’s a pilot program sponsored by the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and Our Lady Dispensary (OLD). The hope/plan is to launch a full version of this program after I return from the US this Fall.
While the program has serious purpose, most of our time was spent playing: group-building games, making up stories for puppet shows, drawing pictures and making crafts. If you’ve ever seen footage of wild animals at play you’ll realize that play is something we do when we feel SAFE. And so, what we try to do is create a space to play, and to feel safe, and to be a kid during a real chaotic time, and in that safe place to sometimes talk about the stuff you need to talk about.
There’s a lot to share and process from this experience, but I’ll start with today.
On our last day (Wednesday), we asked the kids to bring an “object of Hope” that encourages them. One kid brought his toy dinosaur (T Rex isn’t afraid of anything). But the rest of the kids—they brought religious things (These kids are all from Iraqi Christian families, mainly Catholic and Orthodox: Some brought the rosary they received on their first communion; one boy brought the Bible his mother reads to him each night; one girl brought a portrait of Mary that her father dug from the trash the day before they got word of their immigration papers. They talked about their love for Jesus and how important prayer has been to them during this difficult time.
So, when I return to Beirut in October we’ll start taking the next steps for this program—our hope is an on-going weekly thing that would include a larger group of displaced kids, both Christian and Muslim.
It doesn’t feel like the greatest of timing, to be leaving for an extended time in the US right when this important project is getting off the ground, but it’s also the perfect time to be visiting our friends in the US—because you have been a huge part of this. Your support (in so many ways beyond just material) has been crucial for Elmarie and I over these past four years of building relationships and opportunities.
We are just at the beginning of the work that God has called us to, and we are so grateful that you have been with us on this journey.