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As the car was approaching Chtoura, a small town in the Bekaa region of Lebanon, only half an hour away from the border with Syria, heavy military presence could be seen at the check points, reminding people that the ongoing war was not far away. Sun Jie, CEO of Ctrip, China"s largest online travel agency, was on her way to visit a refugee camp.
It was Feb 2, and in three days China would celebrate the Lunar New Year. During the festival, it is traditional for family members from all over the country to return to their hometown and gather together for a splendid dinner. But thousands of miles away in Lebanon, Syrian refugees living in UN settlement camps didn"t know when or if they would ever return home.
This was not Sun"s first visit to the Middle East. Although she manages a Nasdaq-listed company with more than 40,000 employees globally, Sun takes time out of her packed schedule to visit children in refugee camps, even during a time Chinese typically spend enjoying the holidays with their families.
As a philanthropist who donates tens of thousands of dollars every year to children suffering from the effects of war, Sun brought her husband and daughter to visit refugee centers in Lebanon and Jordan during the Lunar New Year holiday.
In recent years, as Chinese companies have more presence in the global market, they also take more social responsibilities as their Western counterparts in places like the Middle East where a great number of UN settlements locate. In 2018, Alibaba"s Jack Ma donated to help train teachers and let refugee children get access to education in Jordan.
Accompanied by staff from the UN refugee agency UNHCR, Sun visited a Syrian refugee family in a settlement in Taanayel. The family lives in a tent with only an old-style television and sat on the blanket with Sun to share their lives in Lebanon.
This Syrian family has four children, three daughters and a son. The oldest daughter and the son go to school in Taanayel while their mother takes care of two younger daughters and cooks for the whole family. The father usually leaves early in the morning to find work; however, the only work he can find so far are occasional day jobs. He is still luckier than most Syrian refugees, who do not possess legal documents to work in Lebanon.
Staff from UNHCR explained that in the summertime, trucks come every day at 5 am to pick up women and children to work in the fields. Bekaa Valley is quite fertile compared with other regions in Lebanon and it is the most important farming region in the country. Typically, migrant workers from Syria come here for five months out of the year to work and then return home. After the war broke out in Syria, these workers were no longer able to return home and brought their families to Lebanon.
Though the government of Lebanon opens the border when necessary, the government does not want to turn UN settlements into permanent ones. For a small country of 5 million, it cannot support 1.5 million refugees permanently.
This family is lucky enough to escape from the bombs and fires in Syria and to live a temporary peaceful life in Lebanon. Before leaving the refugee settlement, Sun held the youngest daughter tightly and wished her hope for the future. Beyond the camp lay a magnificent vista of snowy mountains as far as the eye can see; on the other side of the mountains was Syria. But none of the refugees in Syria know when they will return home.
Offer help through education
At every refugee center Sun visited throughout the trip, she would ask about children"s education. She said that she believes education can have a tremendous positive impact on refugee children. Education is her solution to help these children living at the settlements.
In Chtoura, Sun decided to go to a local education center and learn the situation there. Maharat Center provides specialized education to 90 Syrian and Lebanese children with learning disabilities and autism, and helps these children pursue their education.
Talking with teachers in the center, Sun offered to provide connections with similar organizations in China to which she also donates support. She expressed her belief that Chinese counterparts can share their experiences in educating autistic children. "I think English education is also very important for these children, because they will have more choices in jobs in future," Sun said to teachers at Maharat Center.
In China, there is an old saying that it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. In accordance with this principle, Sun has set up one scholarship at Peking University for students pursuing education abroad and another scholarship at University of Florida to promote international exchanges. An alumna of both universities, Sun is very thankful for her experiences there and hopes to give back by helping more students pursue their dreams.
Ctrip takes more social responsibilities
Last year, under Sun"s initiative, Ctrip Group was involved in three charity projects: the CanDo project, which helps build and operate children"s hospitals in the northern part of Syria; the Edesia project, which donates food to young children suffering from malnutrition in western African countries; and the Syrian Paralyzed Children project, which provides children who have lost their limbs in the civil war with artificial limbs.
Ctrip and its international brand Trip.com have donated tens of thousands of dollars to these initiatives and will continue to support them in line with Ctrip"s corporate mission of making travel happier and making the world more peaceful. As a global company, Ctrip will continue to help children suffering from war in the Middle East and Africa, and continue to shoulder more responsibilities in the future.custom made bracelets for guyspersonality braceletsrubber bracelet manufactureranti bullying silicone braceletscustom wristbands no minimum