Syria: 'ACN’s help revives our faith and hope', say Christian widows

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Syria: 'ACN’s help revives our faith and hope', say Christian widows

By Murcadha O Flaherty/ acnuk.org

Young widows in Syria have expressed their personal thanks for emergency aid including shelter, medicine and education which they say has helped turn their lives round as they struggle to bring up their children.

Working with local Church partners, Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is providing vital assistance to 2,000 displaced families in the Valley of the Christians, a series of rural communities outside the city of Homs.

During a fact-finding and project assessment trip to Syria, ACN staff met widows in the valley, who described the daily fight for survival, especially since the death of their husbands, in many cases the main bread-winners for the family.

Darin Abboud, a widowed mother of five girls, said: "We have received a lot of help from our neighbors and relatives but, without the financial support of the Church, I don't know what would have become of me and my daughters."

She added: "This aid revived our faith and hope. The Church was right there for us."

Mrs. Abboud, 38, said she struggles to support her family, doing jobs such as hair-dressing and harvesting fruit and vegetables.

Ongoing Aid to the Church in Need projects for the Valley of the Christians include six months' healthcare provision costing £250,000 (€286,000), rent sponsorship, and education for 250 students - all being rolled out since June.

Education is a key concern for Rasha Drazy, who met the ACN team in the Valley of the Christians where the widowed young mother of two took refuge after a series of bombing raids close to their former home in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Mrs. Drazy, 23, whose husband, Michael, was killed driving from the Valley of the Christians to Damascus, said: "Life was difficult even before the death of my husband. The children were no longer able to go to school because it was closed due to the war."

She added: "Thanks to our meager savings, we were able to survive until Michael found work again. We arrived here in 2012. My husband was killed just a few months later."

ACN PROVIDES AID TO PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN PAKISTAN

Aid to the Church in Need is working with the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), an organization in Pakistan that provides legal aid. NCJP supports many Christians who have been falsely accused and imprisoned, and is currently campaigning for a moratorium on the death penalty.

NCJP's National Director Father Emmanuel Youssef told ACN "The level of hatred and bias towards the Christian community has been exposed".

Among the Christians supported by NCJP are 17 people who were jailed after a riot broke out in an extremist attack on two churches in Lahore, in 2015. Desperate to win justice, the accused turned to NCJP for legal aid, medical help and counseling. Father Youssef reported to ACN "So far, the NCJP - with financial support of ACN - has acquired bail for six [of those charged] but there is still a long way to go".

Supported by ACN, NCJP also works with Asia Bibi and her family. In June 2009, Asia Bibi was accused of Blasphemy and sentenced to death. Almost a decade later she is still in jail, awaiting her appeal outcome. NCJP have supported her family, who were forced into hiding after her imprisonment. Ashiq Masih and Eisham Ashiq, husband and daughter of Asia Bibi, travelled to the U.K. with the support of NCJP, to speak at ACN's events earlier this month and raise awareness of religious persecution.

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 11:39
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