Caritas Syria

Aleppo, Syria. November 5th, 2009

Caritas helps Iraqi refugees, irrespective of their religion. They have fled the Mosul area of northern Iraq because of ethnic violence. They are not allowed to work in Syria and are often struggling to survive.

We make a little donation and visit two families.

Name Caritas France / support for Iraqi refugee families
Aim To help Iraqi refugees regardless of their confession to make ends meet
Since 2003
Staff 6 people
People reached 583 families
Contact http://caritas.org/worldmap/mona/syria.html
Donation 300 USD

In Aleppo, Charity Travel supports a project supporting Iraqi refugees, that is run by caritas France. I think this cause is deserving especially because they help the families regardless of their confession. Currently, there are 583 families, about 150 of them are Muslims. 320 Families receive rent assistance. Caritas also provides oil/gas for the winter and fans for the summer (temperatures rise to 40 degrees easily in Aleppo), mattresses, food, and medical assistance.

I ask them to select a few poor families that could need some more help. They select two families for me, and together with two aid workers I take a taxi to one of Aleppo’s unprivileged neighbourhoods to visit those two families.

Family #1
The first family I am supporting here are Christians who fled Iraq a few years ago because it was too dangerous for them to stay. They are a couple with one daughter.

The father of the family is disabled as the result of a work accident. He had changed his profession and became an accountant in Iraq. In Syria he cannot work though since Iraqi refugees are not give official refugee status. Officially, they are considered tourists here. That means the family has to rely completely on aid.

Their daughter has a mental disability, I was told. She was not at home during our visit.

I went to the bathroom, where almost everything was broken. I tried to flush the toilet using a bucket and take a picture of the heart-shaped mirror above the broken sink.

We take pictures together and I wish them all the best luck for the future.

My assistance for this family is 100$.

Family #2

Not much fun

We take another taxi to visit a 47 year old mother with her three sons. The oldest two (16 and 14) want to be computer scientists, her youngest (10) isn’t so sure yet. They could apply for a Syrian passport, but they don’t in order to avoid the 21 month military service.

Since her husband (51) is living and working as a car mechanic in Iraq, the UN and the Armenian orthodox church assist them financially. That money is hardly to pay the rent, though.

She tells me the story of her family. Their grandfather was Armenian, living in Bursa, Turkey during the time of the genocide. So they had to flee to Iraq. A generation later, Armenian Christians are persecuted by militia in Iraq, killing them at random. Their hometown had become too dangerous for them to live, so the fled to Syria in 2008.

We don’t need to know more details. This family has a long history of displacement, and they deserve every support.
We take pictures together before we say goodbye. I wish her and her sons all the best.

My contribution to them is 200$ for rent assistance.