A Kuwait Initiative Enlivens Refugee Children

By Herman Diers

TOYS!  Yes, toys are of crucial importance, alongside of food, clothing and shelter for refugee children, according to Dr. Adnan Alshatti, a professional psychologist from Kuwait City who leads a massive initiative that works with refugee children in northern Lebanon.

In an address at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Tacoma WA on August 14, Dr. Alshatti, a larger-than-life, charismatic and engaging figure, revealed, “You can just see the children come alive with new vitality as they play with their toys.”
Under Dr. Alshatti’s leadership Kuwait is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to serve refugees encamped in northern Lebanon, offering them food and medical services.  However, his primary focus now is on education.  Syrians at the camps are hopeful that they will be able to return home when it is safe.  However, says Dr. Alshatti, “what kind of future does their country have when a whole generation is left without education?”
Dr. Alshatti, a native of Kuwait, received much of his education in the United States  — high school in Des Moines, Iowa, a B.A. from Wartburg College in Waverly IA, and his PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison — before returning to his mother country.
With education in his bones, psychology as his expertise, and a heart of generosity, Dr. Alshatti relished the challenge of bringing schools to the children.  He engaged as many Syrians as were available to teach the classes.
At the core of this education is a commitment to diversity.  Dr. Alshatti, who himself is a practicing Muslim, insists that everyone — regardless of religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or economic status — is to be respected and given opportunity.
In this he is supported by the Lebanese who live adjacent to the campus.  They themselves have been a diverse community with a variety of religious and ethnic folks living together in harmony with mutual respect.  Consequently they have been generous with the refugees who have been dropped suddenly in their midst, assisting them wherever possible and providing a superb example of diversity without discrimination.