How do you defeat an idea?

Last month, Spirit of America worked with US military teams and their local partners to provide educational assistance to the children of Manbij and Ayn Issa, Syria, to overcome ISIS ideology and help make their struggle for a better future a bit easier.
For over four years, innocent Syrians have suffered under the brutal oppression of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. In the last year, US forces and their local partners fought many difficult battles to liberate northeast Syria. Unfortunately, the end of the fighting is only the first phase in a long struggle to recover from the scourges of war and violent extremism. Returning refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP), restoring essential services, rebuilding critical infrastructure, and fostering economic growth are just a few of the complex challenges facing war-weary Syria.

Basic education was severely disrupted under ISIS. Schools of all levels were shut down and replaced by extremist ideology meant to keep Syrians ignorant and compliant under the yoke of ISIS oppression. While dislodging ISIS and restoring some semblance of normal life removes the physical threat, it is the reestablishment of effective education that helps destroy extremist ideology.

Through effective education, Syrian children — previously inundated with extremist ideology — are provided the opportunity to think for themselves, to respect others who are different, and to try to make a better life for of themselves. Instead of being forced to believe and follow, they are exposed to the outside world and provided with the tools to teach them how to think. This knowledge and ability to think critically is how violent ISIS ideology will ultimately be defeated.

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