CHILDREN’S DAY: CELEBRATING YOUNG VIEWERS’ UNDAUNTED HOPE
This year has been one of successive crises in the Middle East and around the world, all of which threaten children’s rights and their future. Nevertheless, at SAT-7, we continue to witness the resilience, perseverance, and faith of children across the Middle East and North Africa as they dare to look ahead with hope.
“Throughout this year, we have seen first-hand what a difference children and youth can make in their communities,” says SAT-7 CEO Rita El-Mounayer. “As we have sought to support Middle Eastern families through crisis after crisis, we found ourselves amazed and inspired by children – both by their hope in tomorrow and by their actions to help create it.”
Across SAT-7’s channels, Christian children have been sharing their hope through creativity. When the SAT-7 PARS program Hashtag encouraged Iranian children to think about the future after the coronavirus pandemic, aiming to help them bring concerns to God, they responded with beautiful, hope-filled drawings showing themselves playing with friends, going to church – and celebrating Universal Children’s Day (20 November).
Arabic-speaking children have also been sharing as part of an initiative called the Story of This Summer, which aimed to help Lebanese children cope in the aftermath of the Beirut Port explosion and to support others living through lockdowns. Once again, in videos of prayers and songs and in artwork, children expressed their hope and faith. “This campaign received very high engagement,” says Marianne Awaraji, Audience Relations Manager. “Children and parents even encouraged each other across different countries.”
Young SAT-7 KIDS Presenter Markus Kashouh also shared the source of his hope and that of his peers, many of whom turned out to clear Beirut’s streets. “What helped us all get through the aftermath was knowing that God is with us. Although we are shaken, the faith God put in our hearts, and the hope that things will get better, gave us strength to continue and to go out and help others,” he says.
Even in Izmir, Turkey, where an earthquake recently reduced buildings to rubble, the attitude of children stood out like a beacon of light. “The greatest heroes here are the little children,” commented Demokan Kileci, Director of NGO First Hope, speaking on the SAT-7 TÜRK program Worldview. “Their hearts are so pure – despite having lived through great fear, they are still trying to remain standing under very difficult circumstances.”
Christian parents in the Middle East are also sharing their hope for Universal Children’s Day. SAT-7 TÜRK Producer Can Yazirlioglu and regular guest Kanivar Bakir, both new fathers from Christian families in Turkey, sat down together to discuss their hopes for their children’s futures. In a moving blog written on seeing his son off to university, Iranian Christian and SAT-7 staff member Omeed Jouyande reflects on fatherhood in Christian life. And Marianne Awaraji, in an encouraging conversation with UK children’s television presenter Gemma Hunt, shares how she draws on her own experiences both as a child and as a mother to support children in the MENA.
While so many children are showing amazing resilience and faith, they and their peers are also in great need. Almost every aspect of children’s rights in the MENA has come under threat this year. The coronavirus pandemic has threatened access to education, food, and sanitation for millions of children from low-income families across the region. Ongoing conflicts continue to deny children their right to live in safety and security. Children are losing their lives in desperate attempts to flee violence, persecution, and conflict, and they are the innocent victims of domestic abuse, child marriage, and forced labour.
SAT-7 programs support children to hold on to hope in God no matter their circumstances, while also helping meet many of their other needs. “Through our programs and Audience Relations teams, we strive to invest in the next generation; to educate them, to make them aware of their rights, and to encourage, and build them up, so that they can become changemakers within their societies,” explains El-Mounayer. Meanwhile, SAT-7 also supports parents in bringing up their children through tough times, particularly through counselling and advice programs.
- Please pray that children’s immediate needs will be met, and for a future in which the rights of all children are upheld in the MENA.
- Pray that SAT-7 programs will continue to be a source of hope, encouragement, and support for children and parents in the MENA.
- Pray that these children will grow up to be positive changemakers in their communities and that they will continue to place their trust and hope in God.