Syria: Poverty beyond the bullets
Abdul is a 42-year-old father of five and he lives in a Syrian war zone. For his particular family, though, it’s not bombs or bullets that make their lives most difficult. It’s the poverty and deeper devastation that come, year upon year, because of a broken economy and devastated infrastructure.
Abdul earns a small income from farming, but it’s barely enough to keep them alive. The family lives in tents made of old sheets and fabric. “The land around them is very muddy,” wrote Crossroads’ partners, when they visited Abdul. “They can’t take shelter from the winter and cold, because the tent fills with water and mud when it rains… The sheets they made the tents from are torn and get damaged when strong wind blows.”
As a father, Abdul grieves that he can’t give his children even the basic necessities of life, let alone toys to play with or things they need for school. His adult sister lives with the family, too, and has disabilities that mean she should be using adult diapers and taking medication. They can’t afford these things either, though. As a family, they represent just one of many thousands of families living in destitution, wrought by Syria’s ongoing war.
When Crossroads’ shipment to Syria arrived in Abdul’s region, local staff visited his town with boxes of warm clothing, sleeping bags, toys and other goods from the shipment. A range of those went to Abdul’s family (the first toys they’ve ever had) along with more than 6,000 other children in the rural areas. Schools were supported too. The photos these partners shared with us are shocking: collapsed, bullet-ridden buildings and traumatised people. The photos of Abdul and his family, though, show smiles of true joy, as they hold up treasured new possessions.
This was our third in a series of shipments to Syria, helping people displaced by war. With the world-wide problems of Covid, it was a battle to get to loading day. This one was delayed still further when the destination port in Syria was bombed in an air raid. The situation brought to mind an African proverb: “When the elephants dance, the grass gets trampled.” When powerful entities fight and kill for so many years, the ones who suffer are the people at the grass roots, like Abdul’s family.
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