The following is excerpted from the Church Newsroom. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.

Children in need in Lebanon are better prepared for school, thanks to Latter-day Saint Charities and the Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA). Latter-day Saint Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, joined with URDA to provide backpacks and educational materials to poor children and refugees returning to classes after a long period of school closings.

Lebanon has experienced significant economic uncertainty in recent years, and these conditions have worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since October 2019, Lebanese children have received an average of 11 weeks of schooling. Over one million Syrian and Palestinian refugees live in camps or in modest housing in Lebanon, and the children often lack needed educational materials when they are given the chance to attend school.

URDA’s “Back to School” campaign seeks to support equal opportunities for all children and to reduce dropout rates. This is done by paying school fees, where needed, and by providing educational materials required by the schools. The initial stage of the campaign was to provide backpacks filled with materials to 1,500 elementary school children in northern Lebanon. The backpacks contain such items as pencil boxes, rulers, notebooks, sharpeners and erasers. 

The benefits of the campaign go beyond just the school supplies, according to Manal Maghawri, fundraising coordinator for URDA.

“Thankfully, through the Back to School Project, we were able to help and bring some happiness not only to the students, but also the parents,” Maghawri said.

Children who received the materials say that they were often teased and bullied when they attended school without the stationery and writing materials they needed. They were also embarrassed by their worn-out and torn school bags, so they are elated with the new backpacks.

Haya, a child in the Kolaj School for Syrian refugees, said, “I love this bag! I am very happy. This is the best gift I have gotten this year.”

To read the full article, CLICK HERE.