Syria - Their City—and Spirits—Will Never Break

17 May 2024

(ANS – Aleppo) – More than a year has passed since a catastrophic earthquake crumbled the foundations of so many lives in Syria. But the effects remain clear and present for its people who, despite it all, are rebuilding their lives and hope, thanks to our compassionate supporters.

Almost immediately following that first violent tremor on February 6, 2023, Salesian missionaries were on the scene. Since before the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, these dedicated men and women of Don Bosco have served among the poverty-stricken population in Kafroun, Aleppo and Damascus—providing education and locally-tailored social development programs for thousands of youth and families. That work intensified and expanded during the conflict and—in fact—Salesian missionaries were among the very few organizations that remained in the country to help its distraught civilians.

That trusted presence and local familiarity meant they were uniquely positioned to respond to the crisis—rushing aid to thousands of earthquake victims when other humanitarian organizations struggled to access areas cut off from communications and transport. Today, that aid continues in the form of monthly vouchers that individuals and families can use to cover the rising costs of food, household fuel, and other basic necessities that support their health, dignity and perseverance.

“In no small part, these missionaries succeeded—and continue to assist—because of the tremendous outpouring of support for our dedicated Turkey and Syria Earthquake Relief Fund,” says Father Michael Conway, director of Salesian Missions. “And more than the dollars we collectively raised, that support elevated spirits and hope when all else seemed dark. You can’t put a value on that.”

That’s why we’re sharing a first-person account from one of the beneficiaries of your kindness, Abdo, who is a student at the University of Aleppo. He writes:

“Unfortunately, we carry the scars of war and trauma etched into our land. The earthquake was another devastating blow, a new level of hardship on a city that was already struggling.

But the most difficult and widespread struggle, the one that causes constant hardship, is the crisis of a poor economy and living conditions. During the war, hunger gnawed at our stomachs. Water was a precious commodity we searched for, and electricity a distant dream. The echoes of those hardships still linger, but the present holds its own challenges. The most suffocating of all is the disparity between prices and salaries, where daily goods rise to unimaginable levels, while salaries remain stagnant, barely enough for a few days.

Imagine trying to feed a family when milk and meat, essential for children’s growth, are considered luxuries? Every penny is a desperate struggle for survival, leaving dreams and aspirations buried under the weight of daily necessities … university supplies, fees to compensate for the crippling power cuts, and even basic medication—all of these become burdens on already strained shoulders.

In the midst of all this pain, the voucher provided by the Salesian Fathers is a lifeline. It allows families like mine to purchase basic necessities, dairy products, cheese, milk and cleaning supplies, things that would otherwise be out of reach. It is a chance to put nutritious food on the table and ensure that the simplest necessities of life are available.

This seemingly small act of kindness has a profound impact. It allows us to face another month with a little less worry. It frees up mental space to focus on our studies more than on securing the most basic necessities of life, especially food.

Of course, the impact goes beyond the material. The help of the Salesian Fathers is a testament to their unwavering faith in us. It nourishes our determination to persevere, to continue learning, and to dream of a brighter tomorrow. In your generosity, we see a belief in Aleppo’s ability to rise from the ashes stronger and more vibrant than before.

Our hearts overflow with gratitude. The Salesian Fathers constantly remind us that we are not alone in this struggle. With this help, we will continue to move forward, brick by broken brick, to rebuild our lives and our city. Because Aleppo, like its people, is a city that will never break.”

Source: Salesian Missions 


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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