Walk into any grocery store and you’ll see them: Chocolates and heart-shaped candies lining the shelves. Roses sold by the dozen. Red and pink greeting cards with lovely sentiments.
These all point to one special occasion — Valentine’s Day.
Perhaps your kids are exchanging valentines at school. Or maybe you and your spouse are planning a nice dinner out. The purpose of these gestures is the same — to show the people in our lives that we care.
But what about the girl who doesn’t feel so loved? The one who won’t be receiving any candy or cards? I’m not talking about a girl in your neighborhood.
I’m talking about the 12-year-old girl living miles away in a Syrian refugee camp.
Her name is Amani. And instead of eating sweets at a Valentine’s Day party with her classmates, Amani will be fighting for her life. She’ll be huddled in a cold, damp tent, just hoping it doesn’t leak. Struggling to stay warm. Hoping she doesn’t get sick again.
Amani is nothing like the kids in your neighborhood, you say. But in so many ways, she’s exactly like them.
She’s a beautiful, smart girl who loves history and geography. She enjoys playing with her friends. And she has dreams of her own … dreams to one day become a doctor.
But to achieve her goals for the future, Amani needs help today. Living in a refugee camp during these winter months is like living in a frigid, muddy wasteland. Food is scarce. Jobs are practically nonexistent. And medicine is too expensive.
People often ask, “Why do they stay there? Why don’t refugees just go back home?”
The answer is simple.
There’s nothing to return to.
These refugees fled because their homes and villages were being bombed and raided. If they return, they will be returning to a pile of rubble. No jobs. No shelter.
This Valentine’s Day, there is a refugee who needs your love. The kids in these camps aren’t struggling with picking out the perfect valentines for their classmates. Like Amani, they are struggling to survive.
Here are just a few of the daily battles that refugee children face:
Between the winds and plunging temperatures, nights in the refugee camps can become bitterly cold. And the makeshift tents offer little protection. Can you imagine sleeping outside in the dead of winter without a heater or even a blanket? This is the reality for thousands of children.
Rain and snow
Many people picture the area around Syria as a desert with constant sun and sweltering heat. But during the winter months, the refugee camps morph into muddy pits. January and February are the region’s rainiest months, and snow is not uncommon. Families spend all their time trying to dry out their clothes and bedding and trying to stay warm.
For people living in a Syrian refugee camp, a common cold or flu can be deadly … especially for a child. Doctors aren’t always available and costly medicine is just not an option. The brutal winter weather will take a toll on children’s already weak immune systems. Without antibiotics, warm clothes, blankets, and heaters, some won’t survive until spring.
Lack of schooling
One of the biggest challenges for refugee children is a lack of schooling. Those who do attend school often struggle and fall behind since they missed classes for so long after fleeing from their homes.
Parents also struggle to afford the school supplies their kids need to succeed. There aren’t many job opportunities inside a refugee camp. Parents sometimes find farm work, but they are paid very little. As a result, there is no money for school supplies, and the education a child may receive is very basic and limited.
Some refugee children are not able to attend school at all. Mohammed is only 13 years old, but instead of attending class, he wakes up early every morning and helps his father earn a small income.
He’s only a boy … but he must help his family survive.
Many of these refugee children have watched their homes be blown apart. They’ve witnessed family members murdered in their front yards. And they’ve felt their hearts pound against their chests as they literally ran for their lives.
But they’re only children. They are too young to have to carry these memories and experience these horrors.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, ask yourself, “Who is my neighbor?”
The elderly couple next door, yes. Church members across the street, of course.
But what about Amani and her friends? Aren’t they your neighbors, too?
The Bible tells us in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (KJV)
We are called to love. Not just our friends and family. Not just our next-door neighbors. We are called to love without borders, beyond the streets we live on.
And for just $35, you can show love by giving a refugee the greatest valentine of all. You can help rescue someone like Amani.
Your $35 gift will multiply to provide $189 worth of lifesaving aid like food, medical care, blankets, warm clothing, and so much more. That means you make over 5X the impact!
Just like Amani, there’s another child freezing tonight. There’s a neighbor who needs food and medicine. Will you help them?