Syria has already been devastated by war and international sanctions. Yet many Syrians have formed a network of solidarity to stand by those displaced by the earthquake, supported by RISE, a programme supported by the Emergency Coordination Team of the Focolare Movement, AMU and AFN participate.
After the earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people in Syria had to move into shelters because their homes had been partially or totally destroyed by the tremors. These are often makeshift centres with poor hygiene and precarious security conditions. Aware of this situation, many wanted to make contribution to ensure these people had access to hygiene services or a hot meal.
The Seeds of Hope/Opera di Maria office (Focolare Movement) has launched the RISE programme in response to the emergency, in collaboration with NGOs – AMU and AFN to provide both concrete and psychological support, especially in the worst affected cities, such as Aleppo, Lattakia and Hama. This was made possible thanks to the extraordinary fundraising campaign launched immediately after 6 February, the date of the first major earthquake.
Here are some of the activities supported in recent weeks, with the fundamental collaboration of the Syrian population itself.
A HOT SHOWER
In March, 390 people – men, women, children – each received a personal hygiene kit with shampoo, soap, towels, laundry and were accompanied by bus to a bath house where they could take a shower. This was just one of many moments of support and sharing.
SUPPORT FOR THE ELDERLY
The earthquake in Syria occurred in an already tragic context: twelve years of war and economic sanctions had already caused extreme poverty. Thousands of people emigrated, leaving elderly parents in the country, alone and without assistance. This latest emergency has only made their situation worse. Support, a gesture of solidarity, was urgently needed. Hot meals were served daily to 35 people.
HOT MEALS FOR THE DISPLACED PEOPLE OF ALEPPO
Hot meals were also distributed – thanks to the RISE programme – at a reception centre in the Zebedeya region, where those who lost their homes in Aleppo are being housed. Here there is a real network of generosity made up of volunteers, parishes and associations that take care of the needs of the displaced people. It is this network that takes care of the distribution of meals provided by the RISE programme.
The reception centre is a school. A large three-storey building with a courtyard around it. Each classroom accommodates two families. Desks are stacked in the corners, mattresses lie on the floor. One woman says: “Thank you for the food you brought. I am about to give birth, in just a few days, and I have nothing. We lost everything with the earthquake. Now this creature will arrive and I have nothing, I have nothing”.