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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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Tearfund CEO Sharan Kelly Visits Malawi

Tearfund CEO Sharan Kelly Visits Malawi – 20 Nov 2012

On having only recently taken up the role of Chief Executive with Tearfund Ireland, my second week found me not only finding my feet, but finding my wings. I have just returned from Malawi, my first overseas trip with Tearfund. This was a truly exciting and inspiring experience where I witnessed first-hand the transformation of the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.
As our plane landed in Malawi, we noticed the aviation crew were checking the wheels of our plane which to our dismay had been punctured. Their puzzled faces as to how they were going to fix them were a bit unnerving to say the least. Thankfully our driver arrived to take us on our guided tour but not long into the journey our fuel ran low. We had to drive to several petrol stations before we could refuel and continue our journey. This was a real eye opener and brought to light the stark reality of just how under resourced these people are.

The Warmest Welcome Ever!
We visited three villages in Northern Malawi. They were all overwhelmingly welcoming. On our arrival, having driven down dusty dirt roads, we saw a group of women holding up signs saying; Welcome Reuben Sharan and Markus. Every time we opened our car door, singing accompanied by an occasional ululating (an African sound they make) began. The songs were tailor made for us, featuring our names. Then with a joyful noise, the women marched down the street ahead of us guiding us to our next meeting place. At the end of the day, a more formal meeting was held. All of the volunteers attended, as well as the traditional, political and religious leaders. The highlight of the event was a presentation to us of African handmade gifts and locally sourced food to show their gratitude and appreciation of the work that Tearfund do. It was really something else! The village people and volunteers gave us a chicken, bow and arrow, and some local artefacts. They also came with bowls of roasted peanuts, which added up to almost 50 litres. The bow was given to Reuben and I as a symbol of our leadership hand over. The thought they put into each gift was quite overwhelming.

Church as a hub and volunteers
Many groups of volunteers had already gathered when we arrived. Some of them came as far away as 8 or 9 kilometres by foot. This indicates just how motivated they were to support their community. They receive items they need to help them to do their job from our partner Lisap such as bicycles, mobile phones (used to phone Doctors and receive data from our Tearfund base helping to train and equip them better) and other useful items. They meet at the local village church which is the hub of most of their activities and seems to be a great encouragement to them. All the volunteers are organised in groups. The mother buddies, the HIV support group, the care groups, the youths, and more. They all wait outside the church and the school every day. The model that Tearfund is supports- development through the church is certainly a reality here.

Yummy Power
The members of the support group help people in the community who are HIV positive. As we know people with HIV/AIDS have less strength than normal, even if they take ARV (Anti Retroviral Drugs). The support groups make nutritious drinks and snacks for them. The ingenious thing about this is that they use local resources such as the Neem tree. What I also liked about it is – they package what is ultimately natural medicine in an appealing way. For example, they produce two types of power drinks and snacks that look like cookies and taste really good.

The IMPACT project helps to reduce the parent to child transmission of HIV. This story illustrates how effective it is. We met Gondwani and Jane, a married couple who are both HIV positive. One day Jane said to her husband; “Shall we just look at the two of us or have a baby?” Soon afterwards Jane gave birth to baby Judith, she is now HIV negative. Both parents were full of thankfulness and joy. They followed all the instructions our partners provided so that HIV was not passed on. They used Nevirapin drugs and also went for testing and antenatal sessions together. This is not the usual traditions of the men in their villages. After giving birth, Gondwani also supported Jane by looking for healthy food to ensure she would have enough nutrition in her diet in the early days of motherhood. They also grow soy, which was given to them from LISAP, our partner. They needed to eat good healthy food and enough of it, as the drugs are quite strong and are most effective with a healthy diet. They had to go every month to the clinic during the pregnancy, but even though transport was a problem, as it was about 8km away, they still managed to go. Now Gondwani also encourages the other men in the village to go to the clinic. Their story is just one of many I experienced and now inspires us all at Tearfund.

Change at a deeper level/culture
The IMPACT project encourages the men to go for antenatal care along with the women and to be present at birth. It also encourages them to go for HIV testing together. This is something that goes against their culture, as traditionally, only the women go. There have been some good changes recently -the men are now starting to go to the clinic too. They are beginning to reflect on their culture and the aspects that are not necessarily helpful. This is a deeper aspect of development that is affecting their mind-sets and worldviews, not just external practices. Even the traditional leaders have caught on and one of them says: “Culture has limited us to go to the antenatal clinic. Now we are trying to relax those that hinder spouses going together. It is not good to keep culture that makes us die. IMPACT helps us fight these cultures”. Against that background, a staff from the Health Centre reported that in August, within one month, the number of men coming to the health centre increased from 0% to 8% within one month. This is quite amazing considering it is a relatively new development. At one of the meetings with the community we asked the volunteers if they had any questions for us. They asked how we do it in Europe. Markus, our International Programmes Manager who has three children shared with them how he had gone to antenatal classes with his wife as well as being present at his each of his children’s births. He also told them “as a couple, we share the easy and the hard parts of our marriage”. And they applauded.

More changes
In the South of Malawi, our partner EAM is thinking of starting a marriage counselling service in order to improve the relationship between husbands and wives. Another aspect of their community development: The members of the care group support the mother buddies in reaching out to the community. Some of them are TBA (Traditional Birth Attendants), women who help with deliveries. The women are now encouraged to go to the clinic, especially when HIV positive, rather than using their service in the village which means they are getting better treatment. The TBA’s are now part of the new mother buddy group demonstrating how our partners still value their support.

Prostitution and HIV
Another harsh reality for some of the women there is prostitution. We spoke to some young girls who told us why they felt they had no other choice. They told us many of the girls do it because they need the money to pay for their school fees or to buy nice clothes because of peer pressure. As a result many of them contract HIV/AIDS. In the past, love marriages have not been encouraged, so as a result people look for romantic relationships outside of marriage running the risk of also being infected. It’s all tied up in many of their cultural practices. School is a place where the message of HIV prevention is being taught, so students are made aware of the dangers. This is another reason why Tearfund promote child education. Looking at the needs of the whole person, the projects we support there don’t stop at the HIV/AIDS issue. We also support self help groups. They were set up so that people can save money which they can then invest and also support others in the community. In addition pigs and goats are given so that they a have a better livelihood. I am so encouraged and blessed to see the progress being made at such an early stage of our work there. The conditions people in Malawi live in are extremely poor. Engaging in the programmes delivered on the ground on top of the challenges of daily life requires such a high level of commitment, endurance and hard-work.

Please continue to pray for Tearfund’s partners, the church, volunteers and the communities of Malawi, that more lives will be transformed in the months ahead.

Thank you.


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