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Sugar, the sloth


Most children have a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or toy that brings them comfort and a sense of security. But for refugees who have been forced to flee their homes with few possessions, sometimes even that source of comfort has been taken from a child.

Adil* and Rahim* grew up in a country ravaged by war. When bombs would hit near their home, the boys would grab their favorite stuffed animal and take shelter. Adil and Rahim were five and six years old, respectively, when they finally had to flee their homeland. They left in such a hurry that they were unable to take their favorite stuffed animal with them.

Adil, Rahim, and their parents were placed in a refugee camp in another country in the Middle East. Eventually, the boys were allowed to take English lessons at a local center. There they met Caroline.*

Caroline is a cross-cultural worker who serves with TMS Global in the Middle East. She teaches English and develops relationships with her students with the hope of being able to share the love and message of Jesus with them.

Adil and Rahim were 10- and 11-years old when Caroline met them. Even though the boys had experienced so much trauma and loss in their young lives, they still had kind hearts and sweet dispositions. Caroline quickly bonded with their family.

“I began to research trauma-informed education so I could better teach the boys,” said Caroline. “I felt that the Holy Spirit told me to bring a stuffed animal to our lessons, so I did.”

Caroline had a stuffed sloth that she brought to the boys’ English lessons, and she put pictures of the animal on their worksheets. She asked the boys to name the sloth. Adil asked if they could name the sloth the word for “sugar” in his country’s language.

“Sugar became an integral part of our learning process," said Caroline. “Only later did the boys’ mother tell me that their favorite stuffed animal from home was also named Sugar.”

When their lessons ended, Caroline gave Sugar to Adil and Rahim.

“Something seemingly small was actually really significant for Adil and Rahim. During the time that I taught them, the boys gained confidence and began to be hopeful about their futures. The Holy Spirit used our time together to bring the family a lot of healing.”

*Names changed for security