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Letter from Aleppo No 15

19/12/2013: Syria

Today, 11 December 2013, is a very special day… Aleppo is covered with a white blanket!  The schools are closed, many people have stayed home,  some children and youth have taken advantage to play and entertain themselves, forgetting for a day a situation becoming more and more obscure and incomprehensible…

On the occasion of Christmas, the Syrian child is appealing to us…

« I need… I need shoes…I need a pullover…I need a blanket…I need a bowl of milk…I need to get warm… I need to get food… »

All these cries, we hear from the mouths of the children who come to us every day.

Children of displaced families…or impoverished families… Children of all ages, children who come looking for us with their parents… 

Children who don’t go to school… who have no access to education…

Their schools have been destroyed or occupied …

Children who do not even know how to read or write…

Abandoned children, children who sell bread on the footpath…  

Children who cry with joy and astonishment when on coming home they find the electric power has been restored : «Now we can see the cartoons… »

Children who bear adult burdens : «  You know, mum could not wash my face, there was no water at home… »

Children who are already living in the nostalgia for the past…. Fadi said to his father who was explaining to him the perfect tense… « Papa, the perfect is like our house where we can’t go back any more… »

Children who are worried… who ask themselves if they will ever see the persons or places they cherish again… 

Children who do not want to leave their parents…. And parents who do not wish to abandon their children… What anguish when every morning the children have to go to school : and if something happens to them, if something stops their coming home…

Children who reassure the adults by telling them : «  Don’t worry, the sound you hear is a bullet… a bomb… an explosion or a missile…»

Children who want to express to us their joy in living despite the sufferings of the adults…

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They ask us for a space of peace, of happiness… a space of tenderness… and quite simply a space for play…

Children who hear their  parents repeat «May God protect you…»

In the eyes of these children we read misery and extreme distress…

They represent thousands of children living in Syria or in the refugee camps in the surrounding countries…

We are unable not to think of each of them on this day when snow covers the Middle East…

They invite us to change our life, to move, to go out of ourselves, to go to their frontier…

The emergency cannot wait, it is necessary to risk a gesture, say a word other than feeling sorry, it is necessary to act… it is necessary to invent, create and bring to birth…

For them projects have been born, volunteers have devoted themselves, programmes have been launched…

We, the Marist Blues, have dreamed for them a world other than the one they are plunged in…

With you and thanks to your solidarity, your support and your words of encouragement,  the dream has become a reality… 

And this reality has been enlarged by a new project M.I.T. : Marist Institute for Training… A centre of formation to allow persons between 20 and 45 to form themselves, to acquire skills and add to their C.V.  important  training and in very different fields.  In 6 weeks, we have already organised 3 sessions of 12 hours each and 3 two hour conferences on topics linked to quality, communication, management of time and many other interesting topics. The number of participants is limited to 18 persons  per session,  while the  conferences are open to all… It is a great success…

The children of « Learn to Grow »  have continued their educational programmes… The interest the parents have in the educational quality offered by these two projects, the morning one for the displaced and the afternoon one for the children of the « Ear of God » families, is to be noted. 

Observing the wear on the shoes worn by the children of the displaced families, we have offered each child a new pair….

The youth of the « Skill School » continue to actively prepare a project for Christmas… The animators are busy in achieving this project…

The ladies of « Tawassol » are drawing good profit from everything offered to them by the monitors, in English or in computer or in manual work…

The members of the families of the « Mountain Basket » as well as the families of the  « Ear of God » of Midane, have received new clothes and new shoes, as well as their monthly basket of supplies…

We have also relaunched our former accomodation project, beginning with helping the families displaced and in need of renting a house… For the moment, a dozen families have taken advantage of it… They have just been added to the list of 30 families who lodge with us and whom we have helped find a house…

With the drawings of Fadi, Roula, Marwa and  Youssef and in their name and in the name of so many children of our dear Syria, 

We wish you all a Christmas of peace and hope …

For the Marists of Aleppo

Br Georges SABE
11 December 2013

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