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Tearfund Staff Respond to Emergency Crisis in Syria

Tearfund Staff Respond to Emergency Crisis in Syria – 27 Feb 2013

Andrew Robinson, who works for a Tearfund partner helping refugees made homeless by the Syrian conflict, reports from Lebanon.
Winter is on everyone’s minds. Relief agencies are concerned with how refugees will survive as many families fled to Lebanon with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

We speak to Syrians living in crudely-built shelters constructed out of tattered plastic sheets and discarded signs. People speak longingly about the homes they’ve left behind.
Many are deeply traumatised, not knowing who they can trust. They have lost everything – their homes, their livelihoods. They talk about the winter, and they worry about their children with so few blankets to protect them during the cold nights, and no way to heat their shelters.

As a team, we feel a growing sense of responsibility for these families. It has become clear that if we cannot help these families, there is no one else who will. We need to provide them with the most effective relief we can with the limited funds we have.

Nowhere to go
Today I met Wessam, his wife, and their three children. They arrived from Syria 15 days ago and, with nowhere to go, spent their first two nights living on the streets. A kindly Lebanese man invited them to stay in the house he was building. It’s barely a roof over their heads, but they are grateful to have somewhere to stay.
As I talked with Wessam, his baby daughter lay sleeping on a thin mattress on the cold floor. Wessam’s eyes were red, as if he hadn’t been sleeping well, and as we talked, his eyes grew moist. With no money and no job, he worried about how he would provide for his family in the coming months.
A few days later, we return in a lorry. When our truck comes into view, children break into spontaneous cheers and applause. What a moment!
The truck is full of mattresses – tightly roped down and stacked high. Parents hold back their excited children as the truck carefully reverses onto the muddy ground, while my teammates and I look on with big smiles on our faces.

For hours, we hand out blankets and mattresses as part of the relief package we’ve assembled to help families survive the winter.
Exhilarated!
I’m hugely privileged to shake the hands of many of the men – husbands, fathers, and grandfathers – who throughout the morning have come up to me and wordlessly expressed their thanks for what we’ve done. It’s a great day which leaves me both exhilarated and exhausted.

A few days later and the rain is pouring down and I’m soaked to the bone but I’m leaping happily over puddles as I run towards a tall, half-built concrete house, clutching four mattresses close to my chest.

A month has passed since I met Wessam, and I am anxious to find out how he is doing. When I see him, he smiles broadly and slaps my back.
His wife is boiling water on a small gas cooker and Wessam gestures for me to join them for tea. I really want to stay and talk but there are more distributions to be done. For now, I’m just glad to see that Wessam and his family are well.
Our hired truck driver steps into the room carrying a stack of blankets, and Wessam’s smile grows wider. When Mohammed appears with a stove in his hands, Wessam laughs with happiness. It makes my day.

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Syrian terror haunts fleeing family

Syrian terror haunts fleeing family – 26 Feb 2013

Looking around their spartan apartment in Jordan, you can see that Jalil and Adila fled Syria with virtually nothing.

Yet they arrived as refugees carrying a lot of psychological baggage which is likely to linger for a long time.

‘Terrible things happened in our streets,’ Jalil told Tearfund.

‘With my own eyes, I saw people planting bombs in cars and women being raped in the street. I couldn’t let my wife and children live there any longer.

‘Now we live in a bare room with nothing from our past except for our children’s school certificates.’

The family had tried staying in Syria because they knew that to leave would be difficult for them. Jalil has major kidney and bladder illnesses and needs medication and regular treatment, so wanted to stay close to home.

But when their house was bombarded a month ago, they knew it was time to go.
Photo: Eleanor Bentall/Tearfund
Scarred by conflict: Basmah, aged seven, is now afraid when she hears a plane overhead. Photo: Eleanor Bentall/Tearfund

Medical needs

Jalil and Adila brought their daughter Basmah, aged seven, and their sons Talib, six, and Mohamed, five, to Jordan and at first they went to a large refugee camp where 75,000 refugees live in tents.

They weren’t able to stay there long because little Mohamed became so sick that he was turning blue, and they couldn’t get the medical help they needed.

They wandered from place to place, trying to find somewhere safe to stay. They even slept in the street until a kind Jordanian woman saw them and took them to a hotel, paying for them to stay there for two nights.

Eventually, they were found by a local charity which is supported by Tearfund partner Medair which found them this flat to rent.

Slowly, they are starting to rebuild their lives but they still face many challenges.

‘My little boy is suffering from shock and sometimes he walks in his sleep,’ says mum Adila.

‘The children are always afraid and get scared whenever they hear a plane take off. We are not totally living at ease.’

The family want to return to Syria: ‘Going back to our homeland is the dream of everyone,’ says Jalil. ‘No-one wants to stay outside their homeland. I want to go back, but only when it’s safe, especially for the kids.’

  • Names have been changed to protect identities

To make a donation, please click here

  • €22 will privide an electric heater for a family living in sub zero temperatures.
  • €65 will provide bedding and towels for two families.
  • €140 will provide kitchen kits for three families.
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Syrian Crisis Emergency Appeal

Syrian Crisis Emergency Appeal – 12 Feb 2013

Increasing numbers of Syrians are fleeing their homeland as the conflict escalates. Yussef’s family fled Syria at 4 o’clock one morning. They managed to leave with some flour but it will soon run out. They have no income, no healthcare and no certainty over what lies ahead.

Tearfund partners are working to help families like Yussef’s to find food and shelter. They are providing blankets, emergency lights and kitchen utensils to those who have fled, as they fight to rebuild their lives.

h3. To make a donation, please click here
  • €22 will privide an electric heater for a family living in sub zero temperatures.
  • €65 will provide bedding and towels for two families.
  • €140 will provide kitchen kits for three families.

‘At moment’s like these, our urgent call to God’s people is to stand with children like Yussef and bring real hope in God’s name.’ David Weakliam, Tearfund Ireland Chairman.

In the time it has taken you to read this letter, 15 more people will have fled across the Syrian border. They have left everything to find safety.

Please give now to ensure families survive the winter.
In a crisis like this every penny counts.

Be part of a worldwide Christian response and please also pray for the people of Syria.
Thank you

Sharan Kelly
Chief Executive, Ireland

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Climate Change and Global Hunger

Climate Change and Global Hunger – 31 Jan 2013

We believe that there is a common factor linking the Irish Presidency of the council of the European Union, the sea, climate change and global hunger. And we think that’s …you!

As part of our presidency, Ireland will be hosting a conference on world hunger and climate change in April. This conference will start to build the agenda for new Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which will set the vision for the European Union’s overseas developement goals for the next ten years.

At this conference in April we want Ireland to champion the ring fencing of funds raised through the planned introduction of a new international shipping levy, for climate change adaptation in the developing world.

Will you help us? Act now and use the form below to email key Irish decision-makers to ask for their support.

The three minute DVD below explains more about the background to the campaign and what we want it to achieve.

Do you want to solve world hunger? Act now and email key Irish decision-makers to ask for their support.

Advocacy Partnerships

Tearfund is working in partnership with;
Act Now 2015- a coalition of the main Irish relief and development agencies
Micah Challenge – a global coalition of Christians holding governments to account for their promise to halve extreme poverty by 2015.

Please sign up to our email if you would like to be kept informed of our work.

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Haiti three years on

Haiti three years on – 15 Jan 2013

Read full story here

Lots done, lots more to do!

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Agnes Anyabo leaves poverty behind her in Uganda

Agnes Anyabo leaves poverty behind her in Uganda – 4 Jan 2013

Agnes Anyabo, 37, from Omulala village, in Eastern Uganda has left poverty behind. Orphaned at 6 and later thrown out by her husband for not bearing a child, her tiny plot of land was washed away by floods. She started over again and planted more vegetables, but then a drought forced her to eat wild leaves. She had two more mouths to feed as guardian of her sister’s daughters Caro and Margaret. But she joined a women’s farming cooperative, set up by the local church, and started growing cassava and received cattle and goats. Now she is more resilient to face droughts and floods.
‘The group means so much to me’ says Agnes ‘I could never have done this my myself’.

A gift of €25 a month can pay towards training for a farming group such as Agnes Omulala Womens’s Group – to help them yield more and fetch better prices for their crops and provide for their families.

Find more inspiring stories of women overcoming poverty in our January edition of Teartimes due out later this month. If you don’t already receive a copy, contact us here in the office and we will send you out one.

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