The skies were clear over Idlib Province – no air strikes Friday, a day of quiescence in the area roiled by a chemical attack earlier in the week.
Mouaz Moustafa founded a school for orphans near Tuesday’s chemical strike, an assault that killed at least 72 people. The images of lifeless women and children compelled President Donald Trump to act, launching tomahawk missiles in retaliation from the Mediterranean.
In an interview Friday, Moustafa said he could now sleep easier, knowing the children of his school face a far diminished threat of chemical weapons.
“We don't know what the future will hold, but it's a small victory to celebrate,” Moustafa said. “It is wonderful to know that we can go through all of the day, knowing that these kids will not be susceptible to such violence.”
With the assistance of communities across the United States, Moustafa opened the Wisdom School seven months ago. The students range in age from three to six years old, 135 children in all.
The orphans and teachers moved underground late last year, after air strikes began to target schools.
But a day after medics rushed victims of the nerve gas to the school’s village, teachers took students on a trip to a nearby soccer field. The children held red balloons with the words, “I love you” printed in English, defying a dictator in the daylight.
“These orphans deserve a chance at life, a chance at a future, and an education,” Moustafa said. “The wonderful thing is all the kids know this school is supported by the United States.”
After speaking in Arkansas about his non-profit, the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Moustafa received a unique proposal from a businessman, an Episcopalian priest, and other residents of Conway, Ark. The group asked how a Syrian orphanage could be helped, an initiative that turned into at least five years of funding for the Wisdom School.
The financial support bought a bus, generators, printers, computers, and paid all of the teachers’ salaries. A message from one of the English instructors conveys her hope that generosity without borders will soon be repaid, a note featured prominently on the school’s website.
“We will let you know this favor, we will not forget it,” the teacher said. “God-willing the war will end and the kids will be adults and leaders in the future, who will help all of humanity, not only you.”