NEWS

Canadian-funded school for Syrian refugee children seeks help

12/28/2012 03:03 EST | Updated 02/27/2013 05:12 EST
A school in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli is struggling to continue providing support to the refugee children that flock to its doors every day. .

The school, funded by Canadian donations, aims to educate the children of Syrians forced to flee their homes because of the continuing bloodshed in their homeland.

Hazar Mahayni started the school with a $40,000 donation from Canadian Relief for Syria.

The aid organization came under scrutiny in August after the federal government decided to withdraw approval of a $2-million grant, saying it was concerned about how the money would be spent.

But Mahayni says every penny she received has been spent on the school. .

Since opening in October the school now has 950 students — and a waiting list of 2,000 — but money is tight.

"I cannot sleep sometimes when I think that the payment for the bus is coming, or the payment for the teachers," said Mahayni.

The weather has also turned cold and the children now need winter coats, socks and shoes.

"The school is the only support for these families," she said. "So I'm really scared."

Most of the donations have come from Syrian-Canadians in Toronto and Montreal.

Now Mahayni has started a website and is hoping for further donations from right across Canada.

Maher Azem has been mobilizing support in Toronto. But for him that wasn't enough.

"I still feel disconnected.," he said. "So I want to go there to see things with my own eyes and help with my own hands."

Azem will take Mahayni's place working at the school in January.

"To see all those kids, happy and growing," is Azem's goal. "You want them to have a bright future. You want them to be the builders of a free Syria."

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