The conflict in Syria is entering its forth year. It’s the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today. Caritas Syria has 200 members of staff and volunteers, helping 300,000 people get access to with food, shelter, health and education. They spoke about their work.
Ghina is originally a civil engineer from the conflict-ravaged city of Homs. Her family fled the humanitarian catastrophe there two years to the Coast region.
She is currently a field officer in Caritas Syria’s office in the Coast region. She covers Mashtal, where Caritas Syria provides aid to 200 families living in remote villages. They’ve mostly fled Homs like her.
She began as a volunteer for Caritas, working with children. Through story-telling, she was able to teach them about ethics, the environment or other big issues.
The Caritas office is just beginning in the Coast. The main challenge is the scale of the need for those Syrians without income, especially food. Fuel and transportation are expensive, so is medicine.
Every Monday Nairi gives out food as a volunteer at the St Ephraim Church in Aleppo. Caritas gives out 2,200 food baskets every month to 2000 families.
But the main focus of Nairi at Caritas Syria is shelter. In Aleppo, Caritas helps nearly 250 families with rental support so they can afford somewhere to live. Caritas also provides blankets and mattresses.
Nairi works with seven families Caritas provides shelter too. Some of the families live in dangerous areas. Snipers make her trips tense. But nowhere is really safe. The Caritas centre in Aleppo was hit by a rocket in January, putting a whole through the whole of the shelter office.
She can cope with the stress, but she says it’s hard to deal with the fact there is not enough to meet the needs of the people.
The elderly in particular suffer. Medicine is rare and expensive. It’s a huge problem for those suffering from chronic diseases. Caritas helps about 375 elderly people in Aleppo with medical assistance.
Despite the frustrating situation, Nairi keeps going everyday to her job. For her, what she does is just a little drop in the sea, but it’s nevertheless a much-needed drop.
Marianne, Abir, Nisrine and Alil
Sometimes an entire village turns up at the Caritas office in Damascus, having fled their homes. They have nothing, just the clothes on their backs. They are in dire need.
Among the Caritas staff who work there are Marianne, Abir, Nisrine and Alil. Caritas Syria’s office in Damascus helps over 7000 families
Their challenge is having enough resources in the office to provide these huge influxes of people with help. And once the aid has gone, it can be weeks before they can resupply.
And the little resources there are to share, are stretched even further as rents and food prices rise.
Iskandar has been working for Caritas Hassake since last November. The office there provides mostly medical aid and hygiene kits. About 600 families benefited from medical aid.
Caritas varies its help and provides aid in other crucial sectors, in a way to complement the work of other aid agencies on the ground.
The challenge Iskandar faces is the illiteracy of the beneficiaries: He finds himself filling their application forms on their behalf, which is a time consuming task when on the other hand the number of people to help is so big.
Angela, Fadi and Jiyana
On Mother’s Day, Shiraz is heading home to kiss his mom when he is shot by a sniper and dies immediately. The family gathers for the burial and awaits Basil, Shiraz’s brother for the third prayer day.
As he is arriving to town, Basil is also hit by a sniper’s bullet. The bullet hits his spine. Basil is in urgent need of treatment, care and operations, and all this is very costly.
The difficulty and the challenge is how to help such a case? According to the doctors, Basil’s situation will improve but there is no one to help him financially to receive the right treatment.
Angela, Fadi and Jiyana all work at Homs office. There wish is to have the resources to help Basil.