A Ray of Hope in Aleppo
How Mary’s Meals and its partner, Dorcas, are navigating the desperate aftermath of the Syria earthquakes to reach those in need.
The impact of the earthquakes of 6 February on Aleppo, Syria is clear to see yet difficult to comprehend.
The city’s infrastructure – already fractured by 12 years of civil war – has been brought to the brink by the earthquakes and their aftershocks, and essential utilities such as water and power are widely unavailable. Hospitals and healthcare services have been overwhelmed by the sudden and huge influx of injured people. With essential medicines, equipment and manpower in limited supply, medics are unable to provide much of the emergency care that is so desperately needed, let alone continue with ongoing treatments for cancer, leukemia and other life-limiting diseases.
The situation has been worsened by the torturously slow arrival of foreign aid. It took several days before border points opened up to allow trucks through and even now, the quantity of goods being supplied is woefully inadequate.
Hope in the darkest of times
In the midst of all of this devastation, Dorcas and Mary’s Meals have been able to bring some light into the lives of the displaced with an emergency community feeding initiative. With their highly skilled and experienced team, Dorcas is reaching 5,000 children and vulnerable adults every day with food supplies and thanks to the incredible generosity of our donors, Mary’s Meals’ support is assured for the long-term.
No one here has escaped unscathed from the loss and devastation around them. A volunteer for Dorcas who is helping to deliver our life-saving meals said their decision to support our feeding initiative is giving them comfort as they process the trauma of the past few weeks.
They say: “Our mental health has been affected by the earthquake. We are feeling very down. We are very afraid of going back home and living this experience again – we only go to our houses to get what we need, and we leave immediately.
“The only thing we are doing right know is praying. Volunteering is helping us heal and keeping us busy instead of thinking about bad things.”
Sadly, there are still many people in Aleppo living on the streets and as nighttime temperatures regularly dip below freezing, there is little respite from the elements. Families are too frightened to return to their damaged homes, scarred by the memory of 6 February when the earthquakes struck. One member of the Dorcas team, Rana, has given us her first-hand account of the experience and describes the lasting effects on her and others who lived through it.
“For me, the 40 seconds of the earthquake were the same as twelve years of war and even harder to bear. Imagine that you wake up suddenly with the house shaking right and left, the darkness, the sound of breaking glass, the doors shaking. My child and my husband were next to me; I didn’t know what to do, how to rescue my son, where to run and how to protect ourselves.
“We left home, we couldn’t find a place to sleep in, all places were risky, all shelters were very crowded. So, we stayed in the car the whole night – we were very afraid, and it was very cold. We had lost our safe place in just a few seconds, without knowing if we will ever go back to our house or not. We were terrified and overwhelmed with fear from the inside out.
“After two days, we went back home, so worried and hopeless, after seeing the number of people either dead or trapped under the debris. I couldn’t imagine leaving my son for a single second – I was so afraid that anything could happen at any time.
“After the initial shock, I started to see the wider situation – a very bad situation; a lot of homeless people, worried and unsure if their houses are safe to live in or not. They are all waiting for the emergency committee to evaluate their homes, but in general, the committee is so busy evaluating all the affected houses in the area. People need specialist engineers to evaluate if the houses are safe or not.”
Please continue to support our work
Mary’s Meals stands with the people of Aleppo. We are determined to do all we can to bring some hope and stability into their lives, and we are ready to expand our emergency response as funds allow.
We are so grateful for the generosity of our supporters around the world. Please continue to help us – no donation is too small. Anything you can give us today will bring hope to the people of Aleppo tomorrow. Thank you.
Mary’s Meals has been working in Syria with its trusted school feeding partner, Dorcas, for almost six years. The Dorcas team is very experienced in dealing with emergency situations, and it is thanks to their skill and local insight that the emergency feeding programme was so quickly activated to reach children and vulnerable adults in their greatest hour of need.
We're now feeding 2,429,182 children every school day.
But more than 67 million primary school-age children are out of school around the world. In order to survive, they have to work or beg. Even if they do make it into the classroom, hunger affects their ability to learn.