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Syrian Refugees Crisis - Eight Years On!
by Kevin Chiu, Chief Executive Officer of World Vision Hong Kong

The faces of the Syrian refugee children crept in my mind again: it was raining in Amman, Jordan, with the temperature struggling at 5 degrees Celsius. In the Azraq Camp, which sits in the middle of a desert and houses about 40,000 Syrians, most people were trying to stay warm indoors. All the children we met had freezing hands, except this group of young girls. Spiritedly, they were practising karate outdoors, led by a Jordanian lady coach. Their smiles were big and their hands were warm - the warmest of all. "Aren't you cold?" I asked. "No!" they laughed - their eyes full of confidence. In the midst of biting cold and a heavy sense of homelessness and lostness in the refugee camp, these girls were like rising sun of light and hope. Yes, in their smiles and confidence, I saw light and hope!

It was my fourth visit to the Syrian refugees in Jordan. The civil war has lasted eight years now - millions were displaced and lives were nightmares! Eight years might be a mere tenth of one's life, but it is a critical and irreversible part of a child's life - many missed the window for education and learning, many became child labour, many became child brides. And in these past eight years, one million Syrian babies were born refugees, in the camps, on the roadside, anywhere but home. "He never went to school," a mother anxiously told us in a World Vision Child Friendly Space in Irbid. "He was in my tummy when I fled the war." World Vision has been providing regular informal learning classes to children there. The mother continued, "This is his only chance to learn. You can't close this place!" Raising awareness and funds for refugees work, however, is never easy.

Yes, in the last eight years, World Vision, together with other organisations, has been trying very hard to provide help and hope to the displaced and the affected - from food and water and sanitation, to winter clothes and school meals and health services. Above all, we focus on the needs of children: formal and informal learning opportunities (such as going to school and joining karate programmes, soccer games, and other sports), vocational training, and psychological support. "Every refugee child is traumatised," a refugee father looked me in the eye and reminded me.

It's been eight years' waiting for 5.6 million refugees and 6 million internally displaced people - waiting for the nightmare to end, the morning to come, so that they may go home in peace... to rebuild their lives, their communities and their country. "No place is better than home!" A 28-year-old mother told us. She wants to take her five children home as soon as the war is over and it is safe. World Vision is journeying with them. Thank you for your partnership.

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