Text: Karam Foundation

With over 3 million refugees and 8 million internally displaced, Syria is the largest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime. While the brutal living conditions of displacement severely affect all Syrians, the youth bear the most trauma of war: lost homes, security, communities, educations. These factors threaten to culminate in lost futures of an entire generation.

Karam Foundation’s Innovative Education programs counters these traumatic factors by instilling a love of creativity and athletic sports, caring for the youths’ physical and mental wellbeing, restoring confidence by building trusting bonds between mentor and child, exposing youth to advanced technology, and developing leadership skills for the future.

Zeitouna is based on three simple concepts: that every child deserves to play, every child deserves a mentor and every child deserves to be inspired.

Karam Foundation believe that children with a thirst for learning hold untapped reserves of creativity that can be harnessed to build mutual understanding and civic responsibility, while laying the groundwork for a peaceful and prosperous Syria in the future.

ZEITOUNA SPRING 2015 took place on April 26-30 in the Jeel School for Syrian refugees in Reyhanli, Turkey. The fourth Zeitouna mission was led by over 30 mentors traveling from around the world. The event served over 350 Syrian students, grades 1-8, who are currently displaced along the Syrian-Turkish border.

The theme of this year’s Zeitouna program was Holistic Healing. The program focused on serving the psycho-social needs of refugee students because educating also requires healing from the trauma of war and displacement. Zeitouna’s professional, multi-talented team includes therapists, dentists, doctors, writers, photographers, artists, architects, athletes and journalists, experienced in working with children and dedicated to their learning and development. They are not only experts in their fields, but also in the use of their work to serve the physical and psychological health of refugee youth.

Photo credit Karam Foundation