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SYRIA

Please don't give up on Aleppo

THOUSANDS upon thousands of people in the bomb-blasted city of Aleppo depend on you, the friends of Aid to the Church in Need, for their every need – food, shelter, medicine and clothes.

Your prayers, your compassion and your commitment to their pastoral needs have got them through what has been described as one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

Barely two week after a ceasefire that finally brought a halt to the fighting, a team from ACN went into the city. 

We found families in shelters and in devastated homes – people who had been fed and housed thanks to your compassion and generosity.

But, with little or no electricity and a severe lack of jobs, schools and medical services, people in Aleppo still depend on our mercy

 

 

 

 

Daesh (ISIS) bound me to a cross - but I escaped

WHEN we visited Aleppo, Sister Annie Demerjian, ACN’s intrepid project partner, invited us to meet a special couple – Elias and Samar, who managed to escape Daesh (ISIS) in extraordinary circumstances.

When Daesh invaded the couple's home city of Raqaa, the jihadists imposed jizya tax - part of Islamic Shari'a law. The couple could not afford to pay it. Daesh came knocking at their door, flung their statue of Our Lady of Fatima in the bin, hit Elias on the back of the head with the butt of a gun and called him a Kafir - which means an unbeliever, worthy to be killed.

Elias was momentarily blinded and he lashed out in despair, hitting the Daesh official. His punishment was to be bound hand and foot to a cross – and aft er one month he was told his throat would be slit. Elias begged God for mercy. Suddenly a plane dropped a bomb and he escaped.

He met up with his wife and a nomad drove them in a lorry to Aleppo. Thanks to Sr Annie – and thanks to you – the couple are receiving everything they need, a home, food, clothes, medicine, heating, electricity and water.

The couple asked us to pray for their children – Rima, 18, and 17-year-old Youhanna, who have vanished aft er being caught by Daesh. With their children’s fate unknown, Elias and Samar asked us to conceal all the family’s real names and not show their pictures.

Elias said: “I have always prayed to Our Lady. God delivered us from evil and brought us to safety. We came here with nothing  but now our hearts are full of gratitude for what you are doing to support our every need.”

Love on the front line

ANNIE and Sarkis live on what was the front line between east and west Aleppo. When the bombs fell, they took cover in the bathroom of their fourth-floor flat in Aleppo's Midan district and sometimes they even hid in the stairwell.

Sarkis, 77, a former crane driver who retired early on health grounds, and his wife have been totally reliant on aid delivered by Sister Annie Demerjian’s group of volunteers.

Group member Vivian, a 25-year-old student at Aleppo University, has risked her life to bring the couple food vouchers, medicine, clothes and money for electricity.

Annie, 62, said: "Vivian is amazing. She deserves a medal and so does ACN. It is a miracle what we have recieved from you. "I thank God every day and pray for those who help us. "The couple also thank God for each other - they only met recently and were married after romance blossomed in the midst of the conflict.

Thank you for what you are doing and please continue to help people like Sarkis and Annie with their daily needs.

Help in a time of crisis

WORKING closely with other aid organistations, ACN is providing help for people who come to distribution centres spread across many parts of Aleppo. Each family has been assessed and categorised according to need and can only recieve their quota of provisions after their ID has been verified.

Some people in most desperate need are entitled to hot meals and others receive pre-packaged items.  One centre we visited in the Christian-dominated Aziza district serves 50,000 people. Provisions last for six weeks.

One such recipient family is Basil Syoufi, 22, his wife, Mariana, 27, and their one-month old daughter, Christa - the light of the young couple's lives. The challenge of getting by is greater because Basil was born with a disability.

The family receive food parcels, including coupons for chicken, heating fuel and electricity. Funding for electricity is vital because privately-run firms charge up to a third of an average salary to provide 10 hours' power for two lightbubls and a TV

Basil, who receives top-up help because of his disability, said: “Where else could we go for help? Half our home has disappeared aft er a bomb landed on it. We just thank God we are still alive.”

 

I was hungry and you fed me

Above: Young mother Hala, who escaped bombardment in Homs, Syria, cradles her 20-day-old daughter, Mary-Rose, and smiles as she receives ACN emergency aid from Fr Issa Abdo, parish priest in Tartous, in the west of the country.

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More and more people in Syria are struggling to survive. This is the main finding of an Aid to the Church in Need journey deep into a country where we met family after family desperate for food, warmth, clean clothes, shelter and medicine.

In places racked by shellfire, bombblast and worsening poverty, we saw your charity in action with aid being distributed to young and old alike.

We met Sister Annie Demerjian, who spoke of her work leading a team providing aid in Aleppo, the epicentre of the conflict. She told us: “It is painful to see people without food and water. In them, Jesus is hungry and thirsty. What gives me joy is when I can help them and see the relief and happiness on their faces.” The need is especially acute for Christians who have fled persecution at the hands of extremists bent on destroying the Church whose roots date back to St Paul and the first flowering of our Faith.

This report tells stories of individuals and families who urgently need our compassion and mercy as they continue on their own Way of the Cross.

Download button red You can VIEW or DOWNLOAD the Syria report here

Your kind gift could provide a young Syrian child with bedding or a family with a hot meal.

Just £25 will supply a child in Syria a Christian education, giving her the potential for life-changing opportunities and enabling her to pass on her Faith to future generations, ensuring Christianity remains in the Middle East.

As much as £60 will provide emergency aid for Syrian Christians in crisis. In times of disaster, Church leaders are able to support the many refugees by offering blankets and clothes for those who have been driven from their homes.

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