We’ve all seen images of children wounded and traumatized by the war
in Syria. For a moment, we feel for those caught in this far-away tragedy.
And then comes the familiar helplessness: but what can I possibly do?
Here is our chance.
In early 2014, the Sufi Way began a funding appeal to raise money for the monastery of Mar Elian in Syria, whose abbot we know well – Father Jacques Mourad. Over 450 displaced people — including 100 children under the age of ten — had sought shelter at the monastery. Many had arrived at the monastery with nothing more than the clothes in which they fled. Their villages had been destroyed in the fighting, their homes looted and burned.
Father Jacques provided for them as best he could — finding warm clothes for the children, providing food and shelter, struggling to build toilets and heat rooms. He urgently needed help to care for these families.
Within the first month of the funding appeal, we raised over $21,000. We had started transferring the funds — through the monastery’s Jesuit bank account in Rome — when we received news in mid-February, 2014, that the Syrian military authorities had come to Mar Elian and ordered all the refugees to leave the monastery within one week and return to their villages. The hard fact is that their villages and homes are in ruins.
We temporarily suspended the funding appeal — and transferring funds — until we could be assured by Father Jacques that there still was a way for the funds to aid these people outside the refuge offered by him at Mar Elian.
The Situation Now
We have now received word from Father Jacques. He has travelled many times to the villages where the people have been forced to return, “in order to see how we can help concretely.” The following passage from his letter describes the situation in heart-breaking terms:
Damage is everywhere! They have lost everything, their simple and poor houses were stolen and then after burned. 70% of the houses were burned, 10% were completely destroyed. The rest (20 %) were saved from fire and destruction but not from robbery. We are talking of 3000 Muslims families, half of them returned to their houses and the other half is still dispread in and out of Syria. They need everything. Some humanitarian organizations are providing food, necessary thing for daily life, mattresses and blankets etc. But this is still not enough. They live in unhealthy places: water from rain and snow is filtering everywhere, walls are black because of fire, they have no real doors or windows, rest rooms and kitchens are broken and don't function, no water reservoirs, no electric cables etc.
Our aim is to enable those people to go back to normal life. They are not wealthy and have no work, therefore they need help to rehabilitate their houses and have the minimum of dignity. The project is enormous, other friends willing to help, and together with we shall make it.
I assure you and your friends that your donation, if you agree, will reach his final destination, people in need. I already thank you in their names. You cannot imagine their faces, how much are they grateful for any kind of help. When they were at Mar Elian I couldn't had enough from the smiles of their children, playing with them was my deep spiritual consolation. I hope you will continue to support us in this mission toward marginalised people, in the Name of God and in the name of humanity.
Any amount you can donate — large or small — will be greatly appreciated. This is an opportunity to give practical help to families who, through no fault of their own, have been caught up in the appalling violence in Syria.
There are no management overheads in this project — we transfer all funds received to Father Jacques to be used to support these people. Mar Elian is the sister monastery of Deir Mar Musa, which many of us have visited over the years, and where we first met Father Jacques. He is a trusted friend.
Please receive a deep bow of gratitude from Father Jacques, and from the children and families he is working to support.