2022-12-07 SYRIA

Letter from Aleppo no 45

A dynamic of the provisional

These days, the eyes of the whole world are on the soccer world cup. This is the subject that occupies almost all the pages of social networks. For a month, the TV channels offer us to attend the matches and the media to comment on them and thus divert us, as they are used to do, from the essential.

As I write this letter, it is Black Friday that invites us to consume, and to continue consuming.

The climate summit has gone unnoticed, news of the wars in Ukraine and Syria fade into the background, the economic situation of the poorest countries is of no interest to anyone and yet 200 billion US dollars have just been spent to organize this 2022 world cup.

In less than a month, this page will be turned. And the Western media will focus on the Christmas and New Year festivities.

Is our world progressing in a dynamic of the provisional? Are we forced to live the present moment without thinking and planning the future ? Should we accept everything the media offers us without filtering? Who decides which news should be covered?

In this context, our country is largely overlooked by the media.

Helping families

One of the principles we have for helping families is to establish a relationship with them. For this, we start by visiting them to know their daily life.

I share with you concrete examples that we have recently discovered:

A family is made up of the grandmother who has no news from her husband, missing for several years. With her, in the same room of 9 m2, live her son who is unemployed and his pregnant wife, the family of her daughter whose husband is a ragpicker with their three children and a single daughter. In total, more than 10 people aged 1 to 65. The unmarried girl had to drop out of college, unable to afford even transportation to college. A battery powers an LED lamp. During the war and even after, they moved several times. The house does not belong to them. Friends lent it to them. They need everything: everything that would help them live with dignity (clothes, diapers and milk for the baby, foodstuffs, medicines, etc.). Confronted to this misery, we cannot stand idly by, we must act.

Another family we recently visited lives in another very poor part of the city. That night it was raining. The entrance and the kitchen are covered by a tarpaulin that lets the water through. In the well-heated bedroom, a 17-year-old paraplegic is lying on the floor. When asked how he manages to heat, the dad shows us a big bag filled with pieces of fabric and tells us: « There is no fuel oil. The government has promised to distribute 50 liters per year and per family, but what can 50 liters do with a harsh winter? How to heat and heat water for a bath? Families burn plastic, pieces of fabric, anything… The rooms are damp and cold. And this can cause very serious health problems. We know that the shortage is due to the sanctions imposed on the country and we suffer from these unjust measures ».

In front of the situation of extreme poverty reported by United Nations agencies, many of our citizens live in resignation. So, the question becomes urgent: “Are we living in a dynamic of the provisional which could change one day or are we living in a dynamic of the status quo, which goes on forever? »

Could you, dear friends, be our voice and talk around you about the situation of the forgotten Syrian people? We are counting on your support and your solidarity to break the structures of injustice that are crushing us!

We, the Blue Marists, do not want to stand idly by. We act, we move towards the frontier of misery to try to reach out to others, to lift them up and restore their dignity. A young girl came to see me and told me: “It is true that we are simple people, downcast and hopeless, but you are helping us to get up, to dare and to continue the journey”.

Visit of the Provincial

The last months, we have received several foreign friends; some coming on behalf of their organization and others seeking more truth about the daily reality of the Syrian people.

Likewise, last week, we received the visit of Brother Aureliano Garcia, Provincial of the Marist Brothers, accompanied by Brother Manuel Jorques. We had a lot of time to discuss and reflect on the reality of the Blue Marist and on the future. Significant questions have been raised. They touch on the importance of the presence of the Marists in Aleppo and the continuity of the work in the service of the suffering Syrian population.

Bro. Aureliano has just published a letter sent to all the Marists of the province. I copy with his permission, these few words:

“Your presence is the presence of the Church next to those who suffer. Your mission makes the disciples of Jesus visible in the land from which the first Christian communities emerged at the beginning of our history. Your daily life is also, without a doubt, a commitment to dialogue and brotherhood with the Muslim world. Thanks! »

About this dialogue and brotherhood with the Muslim world, a Muslim lady, a Marist volunteer, asked me to pray for her and for her family who are going through a difficult time. She said to me: “I know that on Sundays you go to mass and you pray, please keep me present in your prayers. »

Projects

Our various projects are well underway.

The 26 young people who distribute the hot meals of the “Sharing Bread” project continue to provide the 250 elderly and vulnerable people with a daily hot meal. Their relationship with the elderly goes much further than the simple delivery of meals. These days, the ladies in the kitchen prepare good dishes for the traditional feast of Saint Barbara and start planning Christmas meals.

The children of the educational project “I want to learn” and those of the psychosocial support projects “Lotus and Bamboo“, fill the whole house with life. They are here at 9 a.m. Supervised by well-prepared and trained facilitators, they feel happy living with us. We celebrated with them the “Children’s Rights” world day.

Their parents have already had two training meetings on essential themes for the education of their children. The waiting list for these three projects is very long and unfortunately, we cannot respond to all requests.

“Ghosn” “Branch” is a psychological support project for women. Twice a week, 24 ladies divided into two groups meet for a time of talk and share.

The ” Women Development ” project brings together, twice a week, 60 women in two groups around themes that are useful to them with quality speakers: doctors, psychologists, experts in the history of our country and our city, trainers in social and religious sciences, trainers in the culinary arts and manual skills.

Twenty women attend the “Cut and Sew” session. They are all motivated to learn sewing and thus be able to support their families. For four months, pencil in hand, they draw models then cut and sew skirts and shirts under the direction of an expert.

The “MIT” center continues to provide training on various themes, the latest being “The foundations of self-development” in which 22 young people participated.

More than 45 adults are currently benefiting from the two projects “Vocational Training” and “Microprojects”. Learning a trade guarantees young apprentices a future of dignity. Similarly, launching “your own small project” is a chance not to fall into begging and dependence.

The seamstresses of “Heartmade” work with their hearts. The Christmas and New Year holidays are approaching and this is an opportunity to participate in exhibitions to sell the maximum of their production. They are always unique pieces, of extreme beauty and very fine quality.

More than 800 families wait eagerly every month for the Food Basket that we distribute. This is an opportunity to listen to how essential this basket is to them in these times of incredible rise of the prices of basic foodstuffs.

This year again and thanks to friends, we have relaunched the School Support project for students and university students. This is to help parents to pay the tuition fees which have undergone a considerable increase. Some parents cannot even cover the cost of school supplies and transportation. We firmly believe that instruction and education are the path to peace for the future.

Powdered milk continues to increase in price while becoming a rare commodity. Yet, it is essential for the development of children. We seek by all means to ensure it for some 3,000 children under the age of 11 through the “Drop of Milk” project.

And what about the Medical project. The reality is catastrophic. The costs of surgical procedures or treatment amount to unaffordable figures. We participate with other Catholic organizations to support the sick and their families.

On the way to Christmas

I share with you this text of meditation and prayer:

Lord, help me to start going to the path,
The path of human being, of every human being.
The path of humanity…

Lord, help me to listen,
To the cries that rise towards you
The cries of the hungry and the voiceless…

Lord help me smile
A smile that comes from my heart…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

_______________

Brother Georges Sabe, For the Blue Marists
December 4, 2022

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