Providing Support for Syrian Refugees in Host Countries

We cap off our final installment of our series in partnership with the Zakat Foundation of America (ZF), with a look at ZF’s Syrian Refugee Programs. The following article was contributed by ZF.  

Since the start of the conflict in Syria, 5.6 million individuals have become refugees who need support and resources. While the crisis in Syria has received greater recognition on the global stage in recent times, the Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) has been working with refugees from this region since 2012, when the first individuals fled their homes and crossed into Turkey. While our last NGOsource blog outlined the current situation of giving in Syria, we are eager to share how to also support Syrian refugees in other countries. Today, Zakat Foundation serves Syrian Refugees in a spectrum of capacities through our programs in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. In each of the three countries, Zakat Foundation has laid a critical framework for Syrian refugee care and education, forging a working model for refugee integration and close coordination with host country municipalities.

Zakat Foundation in Turkey

Zakat Foundation’s established program office in Turkey has expanded since it first welcomed refugees into its doors and identified how best to serve this valued group of people. It has built an integrated Syrian refugee nexus of housing for single-parent children and survivors of trauma, second-shift day schools for Syrian youth, language and vocational training, employment assistance and placement, and health care facilities that include child rehabilitation clinics and psycho-social services. In addition to this holistic service model for refugees, Zakat Foundation has also established Zahra University, a school specifically for refugees that is taught by refugee academics who are part of the community. 

Approximately 63 percent of Syria’s staggering 5.6 million refugees live in Turkey, with a great number concentrated in the southern border provinces of Gazientep, Hatay and Sanliurfa. Turkey continues to be a crucial host for Syrian refugees as it demonstrates a willingness to create legal pathways vital for refugees to reestablish their lives. For the Zakat Foundation, we have been able to work alongside municipalities to create cohesive programs that integrate refugees into Turkish life.

SCHOOLS: Zakat Foundation hosts six schools that have educated more than 2,500 Syrian students and employed 152 Syrian teachers. The Zakat Foundation schools provide Syrian refugee children education and a sense of security. In addition to math, science, social sciences, art and English, Zakat Foundation schools teach Turkish, equipping refugee children for a life in Turkey if they are unable to return to their home country.

ZAHRA UNIVERSITY: Zakat Foundation’s Zahra University is the only university established specifically for Syrian refugees. Since 2016, Zahra’s four faculties (engineering, education, economics, and theology) have graduated and certified more than 800 students. This unique university enrolls 355 students and 30 faculty annually.

MUHAMMAD ALI SAFE HOUSE: Through the Muhammad Ali Safe House, Zakat Foundation provides a home for 42 single parents and 171 children. Named for the legendary American boxer and built in 2015, the safe house has become a model for refugee family care. In addition to individual apartments for each family, a number of support services are housed here, including a primary school, transportation services, school supplies and clothing, vocational training and Turkish language instruction.  For many of the women who reside in the safe house, Zakat Foundation’s vocational training and language courses open doors to job placement and an opportunity for independent living in the community.

SIGHARUNA-KIBARUNA CLINIC: Zakat Foundation’s health clinic is home to 12 doctors who work to treat Syrian refugee children who may have experienced hearing, speech, eye, and brain trauma. The clinic also offers specialized mental health services that reflect the professional programs found at Zakat Foundation’s Khalil Centers across the United States.

Photo: With the help of Zakat Foundation’s generous donors, Syrian refugee students and professors pursue higher education at Zahra University, the only university established specifically for Syrian refugees.  

Zakat Foundation in Jordan & Lebanon

A combined 1.6 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan and Lebanon to escape the violence and instability of their home country. In both countries, Zakat Foundation supports orphans and refugee families with psychological counseling.  With an emphasis on both vocational training and women’s empowerment in 17 income-making specialties, including ICDL (computer skills certification), web design, and handmade retail production, Zakat Foundation has supported thousands of women toward economic empowerment and financial security.  

Follow the Series:

See below for a full list of articles in the series: 

  1. Meet Zakat Foundation of America
  2. Reflections on Ramadan
  3. Giving in Syria
  4. Providing Support for Syrian Refugees in Host Countries

This article was written by ZF staff.

Top photo: A young boy colors at the primary school housed in ZF’s Muhammad Ali Safe House, where children and families have access to housing and a range of support services. All photos and graphic used with permission from ZF.