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SYRIA: Salesians highlight emergency aid after earthquake

Focus turns to reconstruction, education and care projects


(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries with the Don Bosco House in Aleppo opened their doors to those in need after the devastating earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria* four months ago. Today, thousands of people are still living on the streets. Buildings that once might have been strong enough to withstand the quake had previously suffered decay due to 12 years of civil war in the country.

Funding of almost 2.4 million euro was raised by Salesians around the globe for emergency projects in the aftermath of the earthquake. In June, most of those emergency projects concluded to make room for reconstruction, educational projects, and summer camps for children and older youth affected by the earthquake.

One Salesian missionary in Aleppo said, “The situation is calmer now. The need is still great, but in these months we have helped many people. Emergency projects will end this month to make room for reconstruction and other educational and care projects for children and young people. We continue to work on providing psychological assistance and helping them overcome trauma.”

People’s suffering has been compounded by the earthquake and the devastating consequences of the war. Mateo Colmenares, a young Salesian volunteer stationed in Aleppo, explained, “In Syria we find ourselves in a situation of critical poverty due to the war and the earthquake. The basic salary in the country is 150,000 lira (55 euro), but two hours of light a day for a week costs 100,000 Syrian lira.”

The emergency aid projects included hosting nearly 800 people at the Salesian Center in Aleppo and the distribution of daily food in remote villages during Ramadan.

Salesian funding also repaired damaged houses and provided academic assistance to youth, as well as supported people with vouchers for food, electricity and basic necessities. More than 220 families received a monthly economic voucher, 116 families received a single voucher for electricity and another 220 families received vouchers for other purchases. Engineers and laborers helped 40 families with reconstruction of their homes.

Colmenares detailed additional health and education support,“We helped 300 families with the purchase of medicines and another 100 people with health advice from cardiologists and ophthalmologists. We have also provided school assistance to children between 10 and 16 years of age thanks to our youth centers, helped 900 children and university students to pay school fees, and supported 600 children in obtaining school supplies.”

Thanks to an agreement with a shoe factory, Salesians also distributed 800 pairs of shoes through a voucher for people in need. The aid extended beyond Aleppo. Salesians provided food to 300 people in Kafroun and are currently distributing 450 vouchers for the local market.

In the coming months, Salesians will be facilitating summer camps for more than 1,000 children. The camps are designed to help youth overcome psychological trauma, and Salesians will provide free transport, food, snacks and teaching materials.

Even after all these efforts, Salesians have no intention of slowing down. They reported, “We will continue with educational projects and give priority to teaching languages, because 90% of young people leave the country — boys, to avoid military service, which can be indefinite and take them to war and girls because they do not have professional opportunities in Syria.”

Salesian missionaries operate three centers in Kafroun and the particularly high-conflict areas of Aleppo and Damascus. Throughout the ongoing war and struggles in the country, Salesian centers continue to meet the needs of their communities through the distribution of food, economic aid and scholarships to help young people continue with their schooling.



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ANS Syria – Salesian aid in Syria since the earthquake last February has reached thousands of families

Salesian MissionsSyria

*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.

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