© Aid to the Church in Need

JOURNEY WITH ACN is  our weekly newsletter regularly posted to our blog and designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and various projects we have helped to bring into being together with ACN benefactors.

This week :  Syria

A well for a Senior’s residence run by the Vincentian Sisters 

“Our survival is at stake” 

Over a century ago, in 1860, the St Vincent de Paul Society was first established in Lebanon. The city of Aleppo has also been home to the Vincentian Sisters who have been an active presence in Syria since the year 1898. But never in all their history have they ever faced so many difficulties or had to endure such catastrophic circumstances as they do now.

Sister Ella Bitar wrote to us from Lebanon on behalf of her fellow sisters in Syria who are still very much cut off from the rest of the world. “The survival and the continued existence of the Saint Mansour Charity Association (as the St Vincent de Paul Society is known here, for legal reasons) is at stake,” and tied to its survival, the fate of 31 residents and a staff of 10 at a senior’s residence in Aleppo.

At one time, they were happy and content in their large house found at Aleppo’s Old City centre. They had everything they needed – three meals a day and the careful loving nursing and medical care the Sisters provided. These seniors had the opportunity to attend Holy Mass at home and would sit outside on the roof, relax, and take in the open air – that is, until the snipers moved in. Fortunately, so far, the only damage has been to the house itself, and no harm has come to the residents, nor to the staff.

© Aid to the Church in Need
© Aid to the Church in Need

However, another immense problem they are facing, on account of the current embargo, is securing basic provisions. Prior to the war, around 150 – 300 Syrian pounds (around $7.50) a day was enough to feed and care for each resident. But today, the cost has risen to 2,500 – 3,500 (around $23) per day. Only a few streets in this city have provisions such as food for sale since the sale of goods was fully under the control of the terrorists for a very long time. The army only recently liberated these streets making them accessible to the population.

Most of the time, the senior’s home uses its own generator for power since the supply of electricity has become quite unreliable and fuel prices have exploded – fuel and oil are vital for heating in winter in this part of the world and  are also used for running generators.

The most effected and serious part of the homes’ needs is in fact the water situation. For example in May of this year, the water supply was completely cut-off for 12 whole days. The residents survived on the mineral water– at the cost of extra effort, expense and worry.

So that they can be independent of the public water supply, the Vincentian Sisters would like to drill their own well. It will require a borehole of 100 – 150 metres in depth (300 to 450 feet) and it will cost anywhere from $17- $23 per metre. “It is simply impossible to predict this more accurately in these uncertain times,” writes Sister Ella being realistic. No help can be expected from anywhere in the region. “Our sources of income are dwindling. The wealthier people have already left Aleppo, and indeed the country altogether.”

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 We would like to help the Sisters and relieve them of this worry, they still need $3,500.

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