Support vulnerable families this Christmas

Surviving winter

Imagine sleeping in a field on a bitterly cold night. There is a biting whistling wind that is keeping you awake. It is lashing it down with rain, some of which has seeped into your tent, making it increasingly damp inside. You and your family are freezing, wet and miserable and desperate to escape to somewhere dry, warm and cosy.

Some of you may have experienced this on a camping trip one time but were lucky that it was soon over. For thousands of people displaced by the war in Syria, there is no such escape. Winters are hard in the Middle East when temperatures plummet. Living in tents or very precarious accommodation all the time means vulnerable families are constantly exposed to the elements and are susceptible to illness. With little funds to afford medical bills, getting something like pneumonia can be fatal.

Every year, our relief arm MERATH helps vulnerable families prepare for winter so they are in a better position to survive whatever the weather throws at them. Working through church partners, we provide winterization items to keep families warm like mattresses, blankets, stoves, heaters, clothes and fuel vouchers. Last winter we gave over 20,000 winter items.

One person that has benefited from our winterization program is Imali and her seven children. They know what it’s like to be freezing cold and in danger from when they lived during the war in Syria.  “We started getting bombs hitting our town,” says Imali. “For the two years we lived in this war zone it felt like 12 years. It was like we had gone back in time. We were washing our clothes in a pot and cooking over a stove outside. Our kids weren’t in school but spending their days looking for anything resembling wood to burn.”

Imali and her children eventually fled to Lebanon and ended up living in a tent. They soon got support from a nearby church that partners with MERATH. “The church came to us from the beginning and to this day they are the only ones helping us,” Imali says. “They came with mattresses, a stove and other winter items.”

Like thousands of other families, this support from MERATH and the church got Imali and her children through the harshness of winter. Right now, MERATH is preparing to do the same for hundreds of families as we enter this year’s winter season.

It costs just $100 to keep one family warm during a harsh winter. Could you contribute towards that or could you or your church possibly donate all of it? Please give generously by clicking on the relevant donations option so more families like Imali’s survive this Christmas and beyond. To make your donation, select Basic needs (for winterization).


Thriving through learning

When life is tough for you and your family, you try to protect your children from the worst of it. But it is not always easy to do so, especially if you are part of a vulnerable refugee family.  Keeping well and warm and all having enough food to eat are constant challenges.

These struggling families need to have hope for the future, that someday things will be better, at least for their children. But when their kids are unable to get an education and are sitting at home bored instead of studying in school, that future hope fades. They fear that their children’s potential career opportunities are slowly, day-by day, getting worse and worse.

You have the opportunity this Christmas to bring hope to refugee families by giving the gift of education to children who desperately need it. LSESD’s relief and development arm MERATH (Middle East Revive and Thrive) is supporting local partners who have opened non-formal education centers in Lebanon and Syria. Over 1,600 children are benefiting from these centers, catching up on years of missed education and finding in our partners’ centers a place to play, have fun, make friends, and be children again.

Sanaa is one child whose life has been changed by attending one of these education centers. Life had been hard at her previous school. She suffered from bullying and neglect due to a disability she has had since losing her hearing from a bombing. It made her hate school and affected her self-confidence and wellbeing. Things are very different now she is at the MERATH-supported remedial learning and educational center.  She’s able to learn languages as well as science in a caring environment. Sanaa is enjoying school and has become very hardworking, leading to her starting to achieve excellent grades.  Her mother says: “Seeing her smiling again and excited to go to the education center gives us enormous hope: our ten-year-old can finally be a child again and has prospects of a better future!”

This Christmas, help us support more vulnerable children and their families in Lebanon and Syria. By giving to our Christmas appeal we can ensure that more children benefit from attending the education centers that we support. Our Christmas appeal is also going towards winterization items to ensure that families keep warm and well this winter.

It costs $90 to provide quality non-formal education for an out-of-school child for a month and just $100 to keep one family warm during a harsh winter. To make your donation, select Education and Child Protection (for education programs). No contribution is too small. For whatever you are willing to give, we thank you with all our heart!

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