Serving Children With Courage
During Times of Crisis in Lebanon

By Bonnie Wellensiek, Child Champion, U.S.A, with Hannah, Child Champion, Middle East   |  Photos courtesy of OneChild’s Partners in the Middle East

In the winds of a national crisis, a Child Champion in Lebanon stands as firm as a cedar to help children in poverty.

Khouloud left the business world seven years ago to serve children in the hardest places.

For millennia, the cedars of Lebanon have stood strong.

They are mentioned often in scripture and are renowned for their grace, strength, broad boughs, and fragrance.

A cedar tree is even featured on Lebanon’s flag.

Recently, these mighty trees have been under attack from insect infestations, heat, and diminished rainfall.

Yet a remnant remains, spreading their branches wide and bringing comfort to those who walk through the mountains where they grow.

Our Child Champions in Lebanon are steadfast like these cedars. Champions like Khouloud, who oversees all OneChild programs there.

Seven years ago, Khouloud left the business world to serve children in the hardest places. Since then, she has been helping children and families in remote locations around the country.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” she says. “But my heart was with the kids in need. People may wonder why I made this choice. Perhaps it was because I didn’t have children of my own, or maybe it was part of a larger plan — joining felt like a calling.”

Into the Danger Zone

Along with most other Lebanese in her country, Khouloud and her family have suffered from relentless crises. Economic collapse, staggering inflation, and the conflict in Israel and Gaza that has spilled over into parts of their country have created constant fear and uncertainty for Khouloud and her people.

Khouloud distributes gifts to kids at the Hope Center.

But, like a cedar rooted deep in rocky soil, Khouloud continues to serve children. She is motivated by love for the children and the certainty that God has called her to this work.

The isolated rural areas where OneChild works can be unsafe, especially for a woman alone, but Khouloud courageously travels there on her own to meet with children in poverty and their Child Champions.

She often has to wait in long lines at gas stations for enough fuel to make the trips to deliver gifts to children for the holidays, distribute supplemental food, train teachers at schools, or simply check on and encourage kids and their families.

But Khouloud is undeterred, even going to communities where others won’t.

Crossing Boundaries for the Kids

In a country divided along religious lines, people often have little interaction with those from another group. But Khouloud steps outside those boundaries to serve kids and families from all communities.

She knows that children in these hard places deserve to have an advocate who will stand up for them and for their futures.

“I chose to say ‘yes’ to this call,” says Khouloud. “And I continue to choose to advocate for these children every day. Witnessing the needs of the communities … I feel a deep responsibility.”

Khouloud talks to kids at summer camp.

Serving the Champions so Kids Can Thrive

It wasn’t an easy road. Khouloud began to build the work in Lebanon with a limited budget and other challenges.

“It took time to put things in place,” she says. “But with prayer and dedication, I found my role.”

One of the ways Khouloud helps children is by serving the teachers and staff at the schools they attend. She has built strong relationships with the principals, worked to understand the children’s challenges, and offers valuable training to the teachers to help them relate more effectively with the children.

Khouloud and other Child Champions minister to kids in hard places in Lebanon.

“Step by step, changes were initiated,” she says.

“Much has transformed, and the appreciation from the children keeps me going. Despite ongoing challenges, I believe that God is working. And the growth [that is] happening fuels my commitment year after year.”

During the summer, Khouloud also organizes summer camps where kids experience a respite from the stresses of life in their country.

They enjoy games, crafts, and food, and learn lessons about making good choices to help set them on a new trajectory for their futures.

Steadfast Courage

Khouloud’s work can be difficult as she gathers the courage to go to the hardest places, and she is quick to identify the source of that courage: God and the children.

When she is tired or discouraged, she thinks of the children, and it helps her renew her steadfast commitment to help them thrive.

Khouloud’s colleagues see her courage and love for the kids in action.

“Khouloud has a tenacious grace about her and her work,” says Hannah, one of her colleagues. “She listens to the children with love and compassion, helps our other Child Champions to grow and improve their work, and is committed to doing all she can to help every single child we serve have a better tomorrow.

“The situation in Lebanon is very difficult. But if we want a better future for Lebanon, we have to look to these kids. They are our future. So, we will do all we can to build them up so they can have hope and thrive. This is something Khouloud understands and lives out every day.”

Join Khouloud in her work. Sponsor a child in Lebanon today! 





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