The Centre of Hope in Latakia, Syria, has been able to re-open and offer new classes and activities for a wide range of children. And it’s run thanks to your support!
Like everywhere, Syria has taken measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus – and that meant that activities at many Centres of Hope had to temporarily close. Not least because Centres of Hope – run by Open Doors partners to serve their communities – had to refocus more of their efforts towards humanitarian and emergency aid.
The Centre of Hope in Latakia
Now, though, they are starting to re-open full operations, with the appropriate safety procedures and protections in place. We recently heard from a Centre of Hope in Latakia, a coastal city in the west of Syria, that has just re-opened with new and improved facilities.
“We are very excited to share our new activities and additions in the centre with you,” says the spokesperson in Latakia. “After the quarantine ended and educational institutes reopened, we immediately restarted our Centre of Hope. This first day after the lockdown ended, we bought masks and sanitisers for the children and we stressed that they should use the masks and sanitise their hands whenever they leave the classroom, in order to maintain safety.
“We were able to add three new classes to our programme. Now we are teaching there two days a week.”
“From the moment we enter the school building, the children come running to meet us. It shows us how happy they are in the Centre of Hope,” says Fadia Louka, a teacher in the centre. “I see a big change in their educational level. When we first came, they didn’t know any English, or know how to multiply numbers and now everyone can multiply numbers off by heart.”
Fadia has seen a change in the children’s hearts, as well as their minds. “In the beginning, when someone gave the wrong answer to a question, the class would make fun of them. But, after lessons on love, they started apologising to each other instead of having a fight. With activities about love, forgiveness and being thankful we aim to plant seeds of goodness in the hearts of the next generation,” Fadia shares.
"We aim to plant seeds of goodness in the hearts of the next generation." Fadia
The new classes are for children aged six to nine, and they have proved extremely popular with local parents – so popular, in fact, that the centre has reached maximum capacity that can be safely taught. Registration was open to anybody in Latakia, regardless of faith background: the Centres of Hope want to show Jesus’s love to the community, and they don’t attach conditions to entry. But they do want to make sure that they show Jesus as the real source of hope.
“The first thing we did was inviting everyone to our church, to celebrate that we were back,” says the Open Doors partner. “We prayed and thanked God for the opportunity He gave us to continue our work with the children. Then we played various games with the children, and finally we distributed stationery to every one of them. We were so happy to see the smiles on their faces!”
But it’s not just young children. The centre also attracts teenagers, and there are enough volunteers to do separate activities with them. “In the younger kids group, we danced and sang songs about Jesus, we told a biblical story and made a funny sketch. For the teenager group, we showed a Christian movie and then discussed it.”
None of this would be possible without the prayers and generous gifts of Open Doors supporters.
"We could not have done it without you." Open Doors partner
Many of you have stood with your persecuted brothers and sisters in Syria for many years, and Open Doors is now five years into a seven-year campaign Hope for the Middle East. And by showing that hope to children, Open Doors partners are helping to ensure the long-term survival and strength of the church in Syria.
“We are praying to reach even a larger number of children. We want to show them the love of God and to tell them the good news of salvation. We could not have done it without you. Thank you for your continuous support that keeps us going.”