Recently, a Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC) worker wrote this story about a family she encountered near Tartous, a coastal city in Syria that has become a destination for people fleeing violence in other parts of the country. An MCC partner, FMEEC reaches into communities where most international humanitarian organizations have not been able to go. (Real names of the worker and family are not being used for their protection.)
Tima is a Syrian woman who used to live with her husband and four young children in Raqqa, in northeastern Syria. Her husband toiled round the clock to provide for his family. When the war in Syria started, his life became much harder. A few months later, suffering from physical and mental fatigue, he got very sick. A time came when he no longer was able to walk, and it turned out that he had cancer. He died, leaving behind a distraught wife with four kids who did not understand why their father had left them alone.
A few days later, Tima grabbed a few belongings and left Raqqa for her hometown near Tartous, where she had been wedded years back, hoping to find a helping hand. Her 80-year-old frail mother received her and her kids in her one-room house.
While visiting some of the other displaced people in the same village, I was told about this family. It was so painful to witness this family living in abject misery. The grandmother, the mother and her kids were living in a 172-square-foot house (about the size of an office). The bathroom and kitchen were in a wooded detached section. Cooking was done with an old pot on an open fire; dish washing was done in a basin on the floor, with hardly enough for subsistence and lacking basic human necessities. My heart bled for them.
After a sleepless night, I went there the next morning carrying some cash, a food basket, a bag of second-hand children’s clothing, and some hygiene items donated by aid agencies, including MCC. I was moved to tears the moment I saw the little kids touching the food and other items with disbelief, yet their eyes shining with delight. Seeing the cash, Tima said, "Now I can get the medicine for my mom, never mind me!"
My heart melted as the mother and grandmother broke into tears. They thanked God, me and all who made an effort to bring life back to this needy family.
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