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Southeast Asia, school, education Southeast Asia, school, education

School offering ‘education for every child’ attracts refugee families

A school started by a Marketplace Ministry family in Southeast Asia was designed to serve local unreached people groups, but now more than half the student body are children from extremely closed countries in the Middle East.

“Education for every child!” is the slogan of Cornerstone School, and the curriculum is designed so that every child will progress and not be left behind. Beginning last year, the school has had a steady trickle of refugee students sign up. Today, 15 of the 21 children in preschool and kindergarten and 23 out of 47 in the elementary classes are refugees.

Cornerstone charges a small fee, which makes it challenging to keep the doors open, but John and Juli, long-time CMF team members who opened the school, try to pick up the difference every month from their field funds.

“A few of our students are sponsored by local Christian businesspeople also,” said John. “We are excited to watch as local people catch a vision for helping the refugees.”

Who are the students?

“These families are here because they were discriminated against or had to flee for their lives because a war destroyed their city or village,” said John.

“I’ve been told that the majority from the Middle East are from minority groups, and many from the Shiite branch of Islam,” he added. “So even here they experience discrimination from the locals. Those from Afghanistan are of the Hazara people group. They are a minority in their country. Some are third- and fourth-generation refugees.”

The differing religious backgrounds bring some problems, John says.

“Two fathers came to the school office to complain they didn’t know how to answer their sons’ questions about Islam that came up as we shared verses from the Bible at school,” said John. “I asked if they had ever studied their ‘own book,’ and both admitted they never had. It was a great opportunity for us to share a little about our Bible and why we study it every day.”

John and Juli were surprised to see these same fathers sitting at the front of the audience at the school Christmas program, smiling as their children sang and danced and listening intently during the story of Jesus’ birth, which was shared in three languages.

Every week, new families come to Cornerstone because their children have had bad experiences in the public schools in the name of “discipline,” John said.

“It is common here for teachers to hit or pinch students or use other methods that we would call abuse,” he said. “Refugee families, especially, have been through bad situations.

“Many of our children have experienced a variety of traumatic situations, but our school is here for them!” said John. “More and more, I realize that love — the sacrificial love of our Lord — is what we have to offer the world. Please pray that our teachers’ hearts will be filled with love, compassion and gentleness that flows into these children.”

education, school, Southeast Asia

CMF International

CMF International
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