ACN’s John Pontifex travelled to Syria on a fact-finding trip to give our kind benefactors insight into how their money is helping in Syria.

Day 1: Finally, we were in Syria and sped to Homs city. Coming here two years ago, it was so dangerous we could stay only 30 minutes. Now Homs would be our base for several days. My heart was pounding as ruined buildings started appearing like phantoms out of the gloom. I met Christian families whose homes are being restored with the help of ACN.

Day 2: Power failed last night and we were suddenly plunged into darkness and extreme cold. I slept in a thick coat, gloves and a woolly hat. In the morning, we visited the Melkite cathedral, being rebuilt with funds from ACN. Inside, restoration was underway on icons peppered with gunshot from invading jihadists. Parish priest Fr Antonios Musa said: “May God shower hundreds of blessings on those who have helped us so far.”

ACN helped Christian mum Raneem Ibrahem from Homs to repair her damaged home.

Day 3: Met Sister Annie in Aleppo who took me to meet families she is helping including Comaric and her husband, Jean. In 2016, their home was hit by a bomb and the family narrowly escaped death. Comaric had just stepped outside when the rocket hit. “I screamed with fright,” she recalled.

Sister Annie whom you are supporting, is providing help for Comaric and her daughter Rita in Aleppo, Syria.

Thanks to ACN, Sister Annie found them a new home. ACN is also providing them with food vouchers and other basic essentials. Comaric said: “The help you are giving us is making all the difference.”

Day 4: Distress calls first thing from our project partners in Damascus, reporting an upsurge of violence. Violence there is destroying more and more lives. Could Damascus turn into the ruined city of Aleppo I now saw before me? As we drove through Aleppo’s streets, you could see that somehow, people were living in the ground floor of devastated buildings.

Later, I met Aleppo’s Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo. He said: “The situation in Aleppo is not easy, especially for us Christians, living as a minority… I would like to thank ACN for your support. You do not just give us money but you come to us…”

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