George and Amal Clooney Help Build a Brighter Future for Displaced Syrian Youth

George and Amal Clooney spark the hope of a brighter future in the region via their mission to provide Syrian youngsters a chance to go to school in Lebanon.

Being new parents always helps put things into perspective, and George and Amal Clooney, who welcomed their twins in June, are on a quest to give back to less fortunate children. The couple will help around 3,000 Syrian refugee children attend school this year in Lebanon in a bid to stop the youngsters from becoming a “lost generation” and help shape the future leaders the war-torn country needs.

Since the war began, over one million Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon, giving the country the world’s highest refugee population per capita.  According to the Clooney Foundation For Justice, the surge has affected the education of refugees and Lebanese. Public schools have a “second shift” system where Lebanese students attend school in the morning and Syrian children go in the afternoon. However, children’s charity UNICEF claims around 200,000 of the 500,000 displaced Syrian children are out of school.

The Clooney Foundation for Justice, which was created in 2016 to "advance justice in courtrooms, communities, and classrooms around the world" has partnered with UNICEF to ensure around 3,000 Syrian children in Lebanon get the education they are entitled to. The foundation, which has three projects in motion, has teamed up with Google and HP Inc to help open seven “second shift” schools so more children can attend afternoon classes. The $2.25 million partnership, which includes a ‘generous’ donation from Google.org, and a $1 million technology grant from HP, will pay for things like transportation, school supplies, computers and teacher training. The technology tools will improve educational opportunities for Lebanese youth too.

 “Thousands of young Syrian refugees are at risk -- the risk of never being a productive part of society. Formal education can help change that. That’s our goal with this initiative,” George, 56, and Amal, a prominent human rights lawyer, said in a press release. “We don’t want to lose an entire generation because they had the bad luck of being born in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The actor and his 39-year-old wife, who was born in Lebanon, also wrote in a statement provided to The Associated Press: "They have been victims of geography and circumstance, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Our goal with this initiative is to help provide Syrian refugee children with an education and put them on a path to be the future leaders their generation desperately needs."

The Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest humanitarian catastrophe since the end of World War II. In Lebanon, a country of about 4.5 million, almost one in four people is a refugee today.

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