The needs of thousands of babies, children and other young people are the focus of a fresh package of urgent aid for Syria being rolled out by a leading Catholic charity which supports suffering Christians.
Aid to the Church in Need is helping young people by rebuilding schools, supporting pastoral camps, and providing food parcels for the most vulnerable, as well as shelter and medicine.
These are just some of the 32 projects approved by ACN over the past three months and being rolled out in 2018-19.
Next year ACN is providing more than £210,000 (€240,000) for a year’s supply of milk for 2,750 children and 125 infants.
The UK office of Aid to the Church in Need is assisting with pastoral camps for 910 young people in the Lattakia region – as well as five pastoral camps for 205 youngsters in Aleppo and support for Catholic youth groups in the city.
Other ACN projects for young people across Syria include:
- Running costs for a 240-pupil school in Aleppo run by the Missionaries of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
- Pastoral camps for 500 children from the Melkite Greek Catholic community in Aleppo
- School supplies for the Virgin Mary Kindergarten in Aleppo which supports 40 infants and children
- Musical equipment for 20 children in the youth choir of Saint Maron’s Church in Bayadia, near Lattakia
- Emergency aid, medicine and accommodation for 250 students in the Valley of the Christians, near Homs
Archimandrite Moses Alkhassi, Vicar General of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo and Alexandretta, spoke to the charity about the education of 160 children as well as supporting 24 families with employment at St Elias Kindergarten.
He said: “Education is a priority for us, because educating children is the way to secure the future.”
“Your support is a message of hope… a living testimony to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ… for your helping hand to the families and their 160 children.”
Describing how there are 16 teachers spread across six classes with a psychologist also helping the children, the priest said: “Unfortunately, their families cannot afford to send them to other kindergartens and our Archdiocese has no resources to continue without your support.”
With ACN assisting for a second year, Father Alkhassi added: “Your support is a message of hope and consolation in these difficult days, and a living testimony to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
“On behalf of our needy families, we gratefully thank all the benefactors and workers of God in your honourable organisation for your helping hand to the families and their 160 children.”
“Your support will ensure we can continue to welcome autistic children… May the Lord bless you in your service to Christians and others in great difficulty.”
Thanking ACN for helping to repair Aleppo’s La Source Centre for autistic children run by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary, Mother Superior Siham Zgheib said: “Because of the war, and because of the impossibility of heating, moisture has damaged the walls. This is bad for the health of the children.
“Your support will ensure we can continue to welcome autistic children in a suitable building for educational and religious activities… May the Lord bless you in your service to Christians and others in great difficulty.”
Rebuilding three symbols of hope for Christians in Aleppo, the charity is also repairing St Elias Maronite Catholic Cathedral, the Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption and Our Lady of Pity (also known as St Rita) Armenian Catholic Cathedral – all of which suffered bomb damage.