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Human impact stories from the Tearfund project through local church partner inside Syria

Human impact stories from the Tearfund project through local church partner inside Syria – 20 Nov 2013

Maha’s story

Maha is a young woman who was displaced from Homs with her four children. They are now all living in a small rented apartment in another area of Syria. Her husband went missing more than a year ago, but Maha has not heard any details about him since. In Syria’s failing economy, Maha has found no work to meet her and her children’s basic needs.
Thankfully, Tearfund’s local partner has been active in the region since the start of the year, and has been providing emergency food assistance to Maha. The support has been crucial in this time of uncertainty for Maha and her children.

Ola Rahaal’s story

Four-year old Ola Rahaal was forced out of her village, together with her family and the rest of the community, by a group of Islamist militants several months ago. The family moved to the area of Syria where Tearfund’s local partner has been providing food assistance. Having left all their belongings behind and seeking refuge, they needed support for all their needs, including food and shelter.
However, the family soon received a further shock when Ola was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The entire community joined with Ola and her family in their sadness. A lack of medical support in the area due to the destruction of public hospitals forced the family to travel for medical care. Ola went through several operations, one of which left her blind.

Tearfund’s local partner has been helping Ola’s family throughout the process by providing food, and is seeking to meet medical needs where possible. Though a small contribution in itself, the food assistance has helped the family to cope and meet their basic nutritional needs.

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Tearfund partners, including local churches, have helped people to evacuate their homes and villages in time to avoid the worst of the typhoon, which is one of the biggest in recorded history. But despite the best efforts of emergency services and humanitarian agencies, many thousands of lives have been lost and homes have been washed away.
It has been difficult to confirm all the details because of power cuts and difficulties in reaching our colleagues but we know that landslides, flooding and high winds have wiped out homes, businesses and farms.

Our partners are in the evacuation centres, giving care to survivors who need food, water, shelter and help to find their loved ones.

Rescue operations and food distributions have started to reach people but there are still areas of the islands where people have not yet been traced.

Pastors, church workers and volunteers are travelling by motorbike to some of the more remote areas over the next few days to find survivors and offer help. Despite difficult conditions, they will travel long distances for three days at a time to reach villages where they expect to find high death counts and many grieving people.

Tearfund calls for prayer for the survivors, who will need assistance for many months to come.

As well as the urgent and practical things like helping people have a roof over their heads, we know that there will be a lot of grief as people come to terms with bereavement. We must pray for the thousands of people who are grieving and ask God how he wants each of us to respond to their needs.

Please also pray for the churches who are sending teams out, many of whom will travel long distances by motorbike, that their teams would stay safe and well on their travels and that they would be able to bring hope to the people they meet.

Corrie de Boer from Mission Ministries in the Philippines visited our Tearfund office in October. Tearfund Ireland’s International Programme’s Manager, Markus Koker gave her a copy of the Tearfund resource booklet – Disaster and the Local Church. Corrie found it very useful, as the Philippines face about 6 typhoons every year.

Pray for the people of the Philippines

If you can, please donate to help us support those in emergency.

Syria Sunday 17th November 2013

Syria Sunday 17th November 2013 – 7 Nov 2013

Since the civil war in Syria began in March 2011, more than 100,000 people have been killed. The number of refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries has topped 2 million, and these countries are feeling the strain. More than 4 million individuals have been displaced from their homes within Syria – but because of the fighting, aid agencies are unable to reach many of these people with the help they so desperately need.

International leaders are urging that a peace conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva II, should take place in late November, although at the time of writing a date has not yet been agreed. In response, Tearfund is calling churches to unite on Syria Sunday, 17 November, to pray for the peace process in Syria.
Please join us in praying that the Geneva II peace conference will take place without delay or hindrance, that all parties to the conflict will be present, and that the talks will be representative of the peaceful majority of Syrians, including women’s groups and refugees.

Download and share the resources for Sunday intercessions next week.

  • Syria – 7 Day Prayer Guide: Please use this guide to help you pray for Syria. You may like to focus on a different issue each day or to use these topics in a prayer group setting.
  • Syria Sunday – Church Prayer Guide: Time is running out for the men, women and children affected by the conflict. Winter is coming, and the cold weather will hit refugees hard. A peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria needs to be found – now.

Basimah’s story

Basimah’s story is chilling but not uncommon among the thousands of Syrian child refugees. She saw her home in Homs destroyed, her brother shot. Her family fled for their lives. She is just one of almost 473,000 Syrians who have escaped to Jordan – and one of the many supported through our Syria Crisis appeal, which has raised more than €60,000 so far. image

Home for Basimah and her family is now a camp where Tearfund is providing essentials like food packs, blankets, medicines and kitchen tools.
It’s evident from listening to Basimah that she has not fully left the conflict behind. She relives it often.

‘The army attacked us and our whole house was completely destroyed,’ says Basimah. ‘There was nothing left and we couldn’t stay. We fled for Jordan and arrived at the border at night._
‘The Syrian police started shooting at us and a bullet hit my brother’s head. We were all very afraid. We had to go to prison for a while. We went through a lot of difficult circumstances. Later we tried to enter Jordan and thank God this time we were successful. We got medical treatment for my brother and he is okay now.’

The trauma that Syria’s children are living with is clear too in the artwork they are producing with Tearfund partner Vision Hope International (see image). It is providing pre-school education, as well as ongoing trauma care through play and art therapy. Many children talk of losing family members, seeing homes destroyed, fearing death.

Other Tearfund partners are providing emergency food, funding for accommodation and other essentials for refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Thank you for your generous support.
Please give further if you can

The Choice - story of Sina

The Choice - story of Sina – 30 Oct 2013

See the story album

Sina lives with her husband and three sons in Tonle Batie village, Cambodia.
Cambodia’s government gives the poorest people ‘poor cards’ rated between one and three – one being allocated to the poorest of the poor. Sina has a poor card number one.

Sina’s family can’t afford to buy a ‘proper’ house or land, so they live in a one-roomed shack built with their own hands using scrap materials. There’s no electricity, no running water apart from the dirty tributary outside the house, and no sanitation – Sina and her neighbours use a nearby field as a toilet.

Sina strives to provide healthy food for her growing boys, but she can’t afford much. On the good days, they’re able to catch some fish or snails in the dirty river. Sina often goes without food so there’s more for her children.


Sina’s husband Bora is poorly educated, so there aren’t many options for jobs. At times, he must work away for weeks at a time, leaving Sina and the children alone.

But Sina has strength and determination, and for the sake of her children she holds on to the hope that the future can be better than the present. She’s powerfully motivated by the desire to build a safe and secure life for her children, and she has some ideas about how this might be achieved.
She would love to have land so she could grow vegetables to sell and cook for her children, and maybe raise some chickens to sell at market. But even these simple things are beyond Sina’s reach at the moment. Although she knows the way to go to improve things, she feels powerless to take this path.

For many families like this, things get harder and more hopeless, and children are pulled out of school in order to save on school fees and so that the children can contribute to the family income. This limits the future prospects of the children, meaning generation after generation is stuck in extreme poverty.

Pastor Ke Pich was born in Phnom Penh, but has lived in Tonle Batie for many years. He is well known, respected and loved locally. He has a real desire to help his village, especially the poorest people. With Tearfund’s support the local church in Tonle Batie has started an exciting new project.


The new church project in Tonle Batie is based on Umoja, also known as Church and Community Mobilisation.

This method of helping communities develop and combat poverty is rooted in the church and owned by the community itself. Things are not done for or to people; rather people are trained, equipped and supported to do things for themselves. This means the results are sustainable, and the change is permanent.

People are already benefiting. For example, people with no land have managed to borrow spare land to start growing vegetables together: a very new way of doing things in Tonle Batie. Others have started a chicken-breeding project, helping increasing numbers of people as more eggs are hatched and shared with others. Like Sina, those involved used to think they had nothing, but now they’re starting to see that they have more than they thought.

Because the Tonle Batie Church project is in its infancy, and so far only taking place within the small church community, people like Sina don’t have the option to get on board. This year’s harvest campaign is about making it possible for projects like this to expand successfully, so people like Sina can have the choice to join.

The more prayer and support we can raise, the more we can do to support Ke Pich’s project and others like it to reach out and empower people like Sina.

Please work with us this harvest, and raise support.

Walk for Hope this Bank Holiday Monday

You can also donate here.

For more resources (including prayer ideas and kids activities) on our project in Cambodia visit our Resources page.

Special Day of Prayer for Syria by Robert Schofield

Special Day of Prayer for Syria by Robert Schofield – 29 Oct 2013

How do we pray for a crisis as complex as Syria? It’s the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time, there don’t seem to be any obvious good guys and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. In fact, in the last few weeks we have seen an escalation in the fighting. So, how do we pray?

Here are my top three ideas…

1. Pray for the vulnerable- the innocent victims caught up in the conflict.
100,000 people have been killed, 4.25 million people have been displaced internally (that’s almost the population of Ireland!), two million people have fled to neighbouring countries. Some are living in formal camps but many are scratching a living, barely surviving in informal settlements.

2. Let’s keep praying for organisations working on the ground.
Tearfund and other charities have partners working in Syria and neighbouring countries, reaching out in love to those in need.

  • Pastors inside Syria are risking their lives to deliver monthly food parcels.
  • Church staff are seeking out refugees in Jordan and Lebanon to provide food, blankets and help with rent payments.
  • They are also providing safe spaces for children to play and counselling for those suffering the effects of trauma.

Please pray for the safety and well-being of our partners and their church networks.

3. Above all, pray for peace.
We need faith and perseverance because it is difficult to see how this could be possible at the moment. I read many reports from inside Syria that tell of conflict raging with all sides seeking to gain the upper hand.

There was an initial round of peace talks in Geneva in June 2012 but the second round, called Geneva II, have been frequently postponed. They are now due to take place 23 November but at the moment one of the opposition groups is refusing to be involved. Pray that they happen and that everyone attends.

Let’s believe in a powerful God and call on him to cause people to pursue peace.

Tearfund has designated 17 November as Syria Sunday, a moment to unite in prayer around the Geneva II peace talks, stay tuned for details coming soon.



Reverend Mai Ki, the first ordained female minister of the Mara Evangelical Church in Myanmar and Tearfund Inspired Individual, was awarded the annual prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life by the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) for her work to tackle poverty and famine in formerly oppressed Chin State, Myanmar.

Mai Ki grew up in an illiterate farming family in a remote village in Burma. Blessed with exceptional talents and skills, and through sheer perseverance she progressed to obtain a Masters in Theology in India. However her heart remained in the hill country rural villages of Burma, an area oppressed by the Burmese military regime for many years and recently victim of a severe famine, and she returned to there after completing her studies.

With a spirit and passion for social interventions and female empowerment, Rev Mai Ki has inspired and led a number of other community based initiatives to tackle poverty, including promoting animal husbandry, community healthcare projects, skills and training courses and disaster and management relief. Her work has a strong emphasis on women taking the lead in developing themselves and their families.

The award honours creative and courageous women around the world for their contribution to improving the quality of life in rural communities, for protecting the environment, imparting knowledge and standing up for human rights, development and peace. Since it was established in 1994, WWSF has awarded 395 prizes in over 120 countries.

Because of work to tackle poverty through social enterprise in Myanmar, Mai Ki was selected to be part of Tearfund’s Inspired Individuals initiative in 2012. The Inspired Individuals Initiative seeks to identify, resource and connect social entrepreneurs – change agents whose unique vision has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of people living in poverty.

“We could not be more proud of Mai Ki,” said Gary Swart, Inspired Individuals Director at Tearfund UK. “We’re incredibly pleased that other organisations like WWSF are starting to recognise her hard work and dedication to people living in poverty, she truly is an inspiration.”

“I feel really great hope,” says Mai Ki. “God is answering the prayers of believers in Myanmar. As a rural woman, wherever I go I see people having hope and trusting each other. We don’t have change yet, but in our hearts, we do.”

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