Thanks to the assistance provided by our benefactors so far, we have been able to help several families affected by the crisis in Syria, especially in the city of Aleppo.
We were able to set up sources of employment for 12 families; also, we have been able to provide food and other necessities to about 80 families.
By the grace of God, we were also able to pay for other emergencies faced by families because of the war, such as the payment of rental housing, medicines and medical care, gas and heating oil, school supplies, coats, etc.
Also, there materialized a way to help children who were left without education, by starting a small school on the grounds of the convent of the Carmelite sisters. Thanks to the enthusiastic willingness of our young people, we were able to start classes for 20 children of different ages. This was very important because these children besides not being able to go to school were at risk of having to spend much of the day among the major areas of conflict. So, in addition to the classes, we began a playgroup, where the children, besides studying, also played and learnt to pray for peace in Syria.
With the creation of this group, we provided work for some families who helped us with the classes, the preparation of food, or with transportation in a special vehicle which transported teachers, children and workers.
I write this in the past tense, because earlier this year, it happened that an Armenian school opened its doors to begin the classes, and the children were able to enroll there. Besides assuring their education, it protected them from the risk of having to walk daily from their neighborhoods to our home. A large number of children are still in these emergency situations, both as regards basic needs as well as education, and this situation is increasingly being intensified; God willing, in the not too distant future, we can give more effective assistance to those for whom the new Syria will be shaped.
But most especially, we want to thank God for the help we could give some people affected by the explosion of bombs in the university campus just two weeks ago, which happened very near our house. Among the hundreds of people affected, there were some who were close to us. With the aid received from our benefactors, we could give immediate and emergency assistance in order to save some lives. God is not outdone in generosity; He will bless you abundantly because thanks to you, we are able to help more.
It is very difficult to establish a fixed mode of aid under these circumstances of war which, as you know, is constantly escalating. Clearly, there is need for food and now in the winter, blankets, clothing and gas. But the urgent need is different from one family to another, so it requires a more personal knowledge and implementation of various types of assistance for each case. Hence, detailed reports are made for the families. Some are large families or have sick members; there are instances of widows with children and with no job, who are prevented from leaving their homes to seek livelihoods because of the danger due to the fighting. Many suffer illnesses due to the cold, because electricity is scarce, and they have no means of keeping themselves warm. There are places that have been without electricity for two months; there is shortage of both firewood and fuel. What little there is, is inaccessible due to the high prices. This is why in many places, such as in the plazas or the sidewalks of the city, the branches of the trees and even the trees themselves have been uprooted by the people, seeking a way to warm themselves or to make a little fire to prepare food for the day.
I want to thank in a very special way the families and young people who are helping us here with their daily efforts. By God’s grace, everything is lived with a great family spirit, helping each other with great joy, despite the many daily disturbances, and the risks we have to take in order to continue with this work.
These same young people who so willingly help us are also affected by the war in one way or another, but with concrete actions they demonstrate the love of Christ, with their desire to help his people and keep hope alive. Without their support and effort, we would not be able to help in many of these cases. They themselves told me with great conviction: “every little work for the good of others is a shining witness that distinguishes those of us who are Christians … Syria is sustained by the love of Jesus.”
It’s amazing how they, the young Syrians, are the ones most concerned about carrying their country forward, thinking of ways to continue to assist the population, and, also opening to us new ways to do more.
We greatly appreciate all the help that you send us.
May the King of Kings, Christ our Lord, bless all your works and all your families. And we entreat you to not abandon us in this mission that we have begun together in order to help as much as possible the Syrian Christians, who in earlier times, in the beginning of the Christian era and even with the sacrifice their lives, were the first to be recognized by the name of Christians: “in Antioch was where, for the first time, the disciples were called Christians” (Acts 11: 26).
Father David Fernández, IVE