What would you give to keep your children safe?

There isn’t much point asking a parent this question, because the answer is pre-programmed into our brains:

We’d give anything.

A few weeks ago, I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night, terrified to my core.

My family had been sleeping peacefully in our beds (a miracle in itself) in our home here in Iraq when our electrical box blew. Flames shot out of the breaker box and spread quickly.

The burned up breaker box in our home in Iraq. Photo by Matthew Willingham/Preemptive Love Coalition.

As we slept, the room below caught fire, and the whole downstairs filled with smoke.

I jumped awake to the sound of our 7 month-old screaming and coughing and my wife shouting, “Wake up! The house is on fire!!”

Some primal part of my brain took over and I barely had to think. We grabbed the baby and the other two kids, closed the doors where smoke was coming in, opened windows so the kids could breathe, and finally hoisted them out the upstairs window and down onto the front porch. Then we were able to put out the fire.

The only thing we thought about was our kids. We didn’t think about ourselves, or any cash or photos or computers. We didn’t even register those things existed, because our brains demanded we get the kids out safely—and we did.

What if our hearts demanded the same care for refugee children?

What if, instead of feeling numb or helpless, we chose to take action, to seek out refugee kids and to make sure they’re safe?

Because right now, there are children around the world who are not safe. It’s as simple as that.

These children are vulnerable, far from their homes, exposed to dangers they may not even understand.

Sexual abuse, trafficking, enslavement. Kidnapping, robbery, and all kinds of exploitation. The harvesting  of internal organs. (Yes, really.)

It’s not uncommon for security forces to take adult caretakers away to prison or to a holding center, but to leave the children behind. Without anyone to look after them. Vulnerable to predators.

In some places, there are small communities made up entirely of refugee children. Gangs form, survival instincts kick in, and they’re forced to grow up too fast, alone, on the streets.

A girl laughs with her sister at the refugee camp’s safe space for children. Photo by Matthew Willingham/Preemptive Love Coalition.

This week, we are asking you to stand with vulnerable refugee children in one camp in particular. There are 9,000 Syrian refugees living in this camp right now—half of them are children.

Their parents fear for their future, their education, and their safety. Gangs are a growing concern.

There’s nothing these parents wouldn’t do to keep their kids safe.

There’s nothing we wouldn’t do to keep their kids safe.

In the heart of this camp, there is a place where kids can go to be safe—to play and learn, to start healing from the trauma of war, to be kids again. Thousands of people benefit from this safe space for children, but the United Nations is pulling out funding. They’re moving on to some other crisis, to some new project—while the need here is as great as ever.

We’ve known the people who run this space for years. We’ve worked hand in hand with them since we first started serving in this camp more than three years ago, befriending refugee families and helping them start new businesses to provide for themselves.

This safe space is essential to the well being of children here. It is essential to their ability to move forward, to be whole, to achieve a different future for themselves.

Children are still vulnerable. Will you help us keep them safe?

Two brothers play at a safe space for children in a camp for Syrian refugees. Photo by Matthew Willingham/Preemptive Love Coalition.

We are joining hands with our friends to keep this safe space for children open. But here’s the thing—the wounds of war are not mended in a moment. Childhood is not reclaimed with a few days or weeks or months of care. These children need someone who will walk the long road to wholeness with them.

We can help safeguard up to 1,000 children by keeping the doors open. $20 per child, per month is what it takes to keep this place staffed, equipped, and running.

$20 can provide a month’s worth of safety, care, and support for one child.

$20 per month ensures they’ll be able to keep coming back, keep getting the care, counseling, and nurture they need.

By giving monthly, you provide parents with a place they can send their children, trusting they’ll be in good hands. You provide trained caregivers, teachers, and therapists. You offer kids a better, safer way to spend their time. You provide classes to take, games to play, and a chance to heal.

You offer them their childhood back.

Become a monthly sponsor today—and give a whole community the chance to feel a little safer.