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The Kasouha family
The Kasouha family were well known in their region for trying hard to prevent militants from invading their village. They built barricades and lost several young men who were killed in the process. Finally, they lost the battle, and with it their homes, businesses, churches and more. This particular family was wealthy and influential; nonetheless, they found themselves internally displaced with hardly anything to live on.
The surviving relatives refurbished a small barn to shelter three generations of the family. They decorated the walls with photos of family members lost in the struggle. Though relatively small, the food assistance provided by Tearfund’s local partner has had a significant positive impact on the family at this difficult time.
Larissa is a foreigner who was married to a Syrian and has two children. She is now a single mother, and was living in Homs with her children. They were recently displaced and are now living in another village without any income. Tearfund’s local partner was well placed to assist Larissa, meeting her and her children’s basic food needs during this period of displacement.
Aram Ishak Banonian, 28, is married and has a one-year-old baby. Aram was caught up in an armed ambush inside Syria, and was wounded in his shoulder, knee and lower abdomen.
He has undergone several serious surgeries, and will need more – but for now he is on the path to recovery. Without an income, and with significant medication expenses, the food assistance from Tearfund’s local partner has allowed the family to meet their basic food needs during this hugely challenging time.
When Asif, one of the workers from Tearfund’s local partner, delivered a package of food to a Syrian woman named Samar, he didn’t realise the crucial timing of his visit. As Samar opened the door and recognised the food package, she immediately began to cry. Ushering Asif into her home, she showed him a humble kitchen with empty food shelves and a refrigerator containing only a few loaves of bread.
With tears falling down her face, Samar said, ‘Thank you Lord, because from nowhere and from an empty kitchen I now have plenty, and all is full.’ She continued, ‘How generous you are, O Lord,’ and started thanking God for all those who had made this possible. As Asif was leaving Samar’s home, he could hear her saying in a faint voice, ‘My house is full – my house is full!’
(*Names have been changed to protect identities)
Mourning families in the Philippines have been describing how typhoon Haiyan has devastated their lives.
In the town of Basey, in southern Samar where the destruction has been widespread, Tearfund teams have found residents desperately struggling to cope with the aftermath.
Twenty three-year-old Baby Jane Yanga told how she had tried to commit suicide after seeing her two children aged two and five swept to their deaths in the storm surge.
As the typhoon approached they were evacuated to the second floor of an office building. But as the storm surge hit, mud was thrown up in mountainous waves. It smashed the office windows and rapidly filled the office to the ceiling.
Her partner was holding the eldest girl. Baby Jane was carrying her youngest when a ‘wave of mud’ engulfed them and the two girls were swept away.
‘I tried to attempt suicide when I witnessed my children die,’ says Baby Jane, her hollow expression filling with tears. ‘I wished that my partner hadn’t stopped me.
‘I was also abandoned as a child. It’s why I gave everything to my children, as I had not received this from my own parents.
‘I’m so confused. I don’t know what I need or what to hope for.’
Pastor Nestor, who works for an organisation that Tearfund is supporting in the relief effort, comforted Baby Jane as they stood in a street ripped apart by the tidal surge.
He said many people in Basey need emotional and spiritual support as well as practical help.
‘People need much prayer and comfort,’ he said. ‘Some of the people are depressed because of the destruction. Loved ones are gone; houses are gone.’
Teacher Marilynn Accedemia, 31, spoke of losing five relatives and friends in the storm. They had all been sheltering in a room when it was inundated with muddy water.
Marilynn and two others survived by escaping through a hole in the ceiling: ‘I pulled myself up by an electric cable to get through the hole,’ she explained, pointing to the hole.
Support for Tearfund’s emergency appeal for the Philippines is enabling our partners to launch a comprehensive aid response.
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.
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.
Due to the financial situation of their families, many young people in Cambodia leave school early to help their parents to support the family, especially in the Poipet area. Most of them cross the border without accurate legal documents to work in Thailand. By doing this, they can fall victim to trafficking and sexual abuse.
CHO has partnered with Tearfund to run vocational skills training classes for young adults in order to increase employment opportunities for them within poor communities.
30 female students in Andong Lahong Village have been learning sewing skills, including how to design clothes. Thirteen of these students are now employed by a sewing factory in the local area. Sadly, five students have dropped out of the class due to poor family circumstances and have gone to Thailand to seek work and income.
Earlier this year, ten young men aged 14 to 17 years old were selected to join the motorbike repair training class in Banteay Timouy Village, which runs for 11 months. When they graduate from the class, they will have the skills to run their own small business and if they don’t have enough resources, they can apply for a start-up loan from CHO. With their business they will earn income and also be able to train their siblings. More importantly, the students also receive Bible lessons, HIV/AIDS prevention information, and trafficking awareness.
- Pray for the students of the sewing class and for those who have left. Thank God for those who have been given work in the local factory.
- Pray for the students of the motorbike repair class, for the skills they are learning and for the life–transforming input they receive through the class
Malawi doesn’t often make the world news, that is because it is a peaceable rural country. Its biggest problem is the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, at 11% it is one of the highest in the world. Tearfund’s partner in Malawi aims to reduce parent to child transmission of HIV during pregnancy and birth. Women are trained to be ‘mother buddies’ to pregnant HIV positive mothers, helping them to get to the clinic and bringing them their vital antiretroviral drugs which will protect their newborn from contracting HIV at birth. In the last year 118 bicycle ambulances have been distributed to mother buddies to help them bring heavily pregnant moms to the clinic.
Mr. Kabalimo never saw the importance of having a good garden with a variety of plants until he joined the Umoja classes.
He incorporated both the church awakening bible study knowledge and skills and the resource mobilization skills. He said that before “I saw my land which was sandy and dry as useless but after the bible study I realized that God can bless every part of the land”.
Mr. Kabalimo decided to plant in his land various species of crops, he currently has 400 banana plants, 9 improved mango trees and 3 grafted oranges. Mr. Kabalimo noted that he has been able to get a total of around 160000/= out of his banana garden and he hopes that as time goes by he will be one of the best farmers in the area. He hopes to plant over 50 bogoya suckers which he hopes will earn him more money; he has been able to entice his wife and family to also follow the same. Mr. Kabalimo is now a happy man for the knowledge and skills that have changed his life from buying food to production.
Right: Mr. Kabalimo at his home where he has been able to plant 9 mango trees, 3 oranges and a garden of mattoke.