Teaching tolerance in the midst of war
In mid-September, more than 100 children who live in Damascus, Syria, including Naya, foreground, and Lina, attended a special orientation program given by the National Evangelical Church to encourage them to accept the new displaced Syrian children who will be in their schools this year. Violence throughout Syria has caused many Syrians to seek shelter in Damascus, where schools are expected to be overcrowded. According to Pastor Samir Yacco, who leads the program, "The purpose was to let the kids know that this year there will be new faces and that they should love, tolerate, and welcome them." The church, a Mennonite Central Committee partner, is also distributing school bags and supplies and children’s Bibles to the new students and offering a youth conference on ethics for new and established youth group members.