The Church rebuilds lives in Aleppo
“Build to Stay” provides training and funding for Christians whose livelihood has been destroyed in the country’s now four-year-old civil war.
Abboud Banna is one of Aleppo’s many unlucky ones. The home of this 74-year-old Melkite Catholic was severely damaged in a recent bomb attack on the Christian quarter of Syria’s largest city. Mr. Banna now lives in a single room hoping for better times along with his wife Zakieh-Asmar (75)— who suffers from the disease of Alzheimer’s —his daughter Dalal and grandchild Lina. A hand injury keeps him from doing any kind of work.
Yet, the local Church offers him hope. Under the aegis of the “Build to Stay” program, an ambitious initiative launched by Aleppo’s Metropolitan Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart, work is steadily underway to repair the Banna family home.
“Build to Stay” provides training and funding for Christians whose livelihood has been destroyed in the country’s now four-year-old civil war. Brick-laying and more advanced construction techniques are on the curriculum in a big way.
To help the Banna family cope from month to month, the local Church also gives them a modest stipend. Such is the commitment of the indomitable prelate, who is determined to ensure that Christians have a future in their country, even in the face of very long odds.
Mr. Banna is still shaken up from the “big shock” of missiles landing on his home and that of his daughter. It sent him on a mad scramble to find appropriate shelter for Mrs. Banna. He credits his faith for surviving “this cruel stage” of his life, proclaiming that he “was always confident that God would not abandon him and would ease his pain and fatigue and anxiety.”
He is deeply grateful to the local Church which responded so generously by letting the family live rent-free in the room, and making sure they had enough to eat and were receiving medical care. Even so, the family has to deal with a “lack of electricity and water” from time to time, said Mr. Banna, who is “still suffering from a fear of missiles.”
He is praying today that Aleppo’s “security improves” and longs for the day that he can “return to [his] house, and find a job to secure [my] family a better future—with the help of God and the Church.” Meanwhile, Archbishop Jeanbart’s bold “Build to Stay” initiative is keeping the Banna family afloat.
Aid to the Church in Need, thanks to the generosity of its donors, helped Archbishop Jeanbart of Aleppo launch the “Build to Stay” program with a grant of $368,300.
Text with thanks to Éliane Tambay, for ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada