The “Dom” are a migrant people group, more commonly known as Gypsies, originating from the areaaround Pakistan. Over the centuries and especially in recent decades, modern nation states have almost completely put an end to their fluid way of life. In Lebanon there is a Dom settlement in the city of Sidon, and the conditions are deplorable. Citizenship was granted to them on the condition they became Sunni Muslims, as part of a political ploy to increase the numbers of this branch of Islam post-Civil War. Encumbered by poverty, and downtrodden by local negative stereotypes (“Gypsies are beggars and prostitutes.”), it is incredibly difficult to find healthy employment which can pull them out of their situations. The New Horizons Center in Sidon is a partnership with several other non-profits fighting for the cause of the Dom and their children. The role of Kids Alive Lebanon comes in the form of literacy programs for the children, where about 20 children, from age 7 through early teens, have a shot at improving their situation. These kids are smart. They are funny. They are fighters. But they have also had to grow up too fast. The girls are married in their early teens and begin having children quickly. The boys might stay in school if their families can afford it, but this is not often the case.
In the Literacy Program, children daily get to learn basic math, reading and writing. They also get to hear about how much Jesus Christ loves them and cares for them. Our Jesus whispers to them that they are precious to Him, and He washes away the lies of the world that tell them they are dirty, that they will never amount to anything, and that life is only doomed to be hard and joyless. The week before Easter, Mr. Brent brought the NHC kids on a field trip to Kids Alive’s main campus in Mansourieh. They were so excited that Mr. Brent had picked out their best clothes a week in advance! While on campus, they had some hands on time with the resurrection story by making Empty Tomb Rolls! Mrs. Ruth read the story of Jesus being placed in the tomb, and of how the tomb was empty on the third day. The kids rolled a large marshmallow inside some dough, and when the bread finished baking they opened the roll to see that the “tomb” was empty! With all the leftovers, the children had the opportunity to take the rolls home and share the story and the bread with their families. Mrs. Ruth also spent time painting with the children. Each child had a canvas and many colors to choose from. We were amazed with their colorful paintings – it affirmed that they ARE talented, creative and able to make beautiful things! And the day didn’t end there! They were able to share with Dar El Awlad School some songs they had learned for Easter, and they were by far the most animated of any class in sharing assembly that day! Before the children went home, we enjoyed together a picnic outside where we had a feast of Rice and chicken, a real treat!
God has always loved the Dom. They are beloved by Him! We pray that as His hands and feet we are able to erase the lies and show these precious children that they are loved by the King!
Missionary to Lebanon with Kids Alive International