Going back to Aleppo

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A couple of days ago I called my cousin in Turkey, Heyam, who has her sister and daughter staying with her from Aleppo. They had come about 3 months ago to help her with her cancer treatment and then the death of her husband. I was happy that they were there and out of Aleppo, where the rest of the family was. But I got a shock when I was told that she and her daughter went back to Aleppo to help care for her mother. She decided that she needed to give a break to her brother and his wife who had been taking care of our aunt, their mother, who is very old and sick and not able to travel.

They took a flight from Istanbul to Antalya and then they had arranged for a driver to take them to the Syrian border (Bab El Hawa). Then at the Bab El Hawa, which is now controlled by the Free Syria Army, they met up with a Syrian driver that they knew that had been driving goods and people back and forth into Aleppo. He knew the different people at the check points and he knew or was in contact with people at the different areas to see what road he should take or not.

Usually, when people leave a war zone they do not come back, but that is something that is happening in Syria. People are so tried of being displaced or living in the camps that they need something and that is a home, or something like a home. A number of people left after the first three months of the war thinking it would be for a short time and now it is almost TWO Years. I even find it hard to believe that this is still going on . In some neighborhoods if you or someone is not in a house then people will break down the doors and take refugee there, or the military will go and ransack the place. This is all that they have left and they want their homes intact, if they have not been bombed. The area where my relatives live is still somewhat secure. People that have gone with me on trips to Syria might have been at their house and met them. They are from an upper middle class family, all the kids are highly educated, one of the daughters worked for an international agricultural research firm called ICARDA. The company stayed in Syria up until about 8 months ago, then finally they had all their staff leave to other parts of the Middle East – Jordan or Egypt – and set up offices there. They also have been paying their staff during the war even if they were not able to come into work, but this will end in January. This is a company that I really respect. I did some consultancy work for them back in 1978 when they first came to Syria.

I talked to my cousin Ibtesam, who had just arrived from Turkey to see how she was doing. She said coming across the border and seeing what had happen to her city in the last three months was horrific. She got to her house and found that the neighbors that stayed were protecting it from people trying to break in – there had been numerous attempts. She was told that the neighbors upstairs and the neighbors downstairs had taken in about 40 people in each unit, where normally 4 or 5 people live. They were all sharing what they have, but without water and electricity it was getting difficult and the weather is down to 20F in the evenings. Luckily they still have phone lines to get through.

While Ibtesam was in Turkey she made a lot of connections for me and our organization to get supplies and help the people in the camps etc. Just before she left she found a manufacturer that will give us baby formula at 10,000 pounds for 5100 Euros or about $7000, and the same people that are delivering the blankets for us are getting the formula for us.

This is another request to ask for your help to get baby formula, this will be going to the camps on the Turkish border and also inside of the Syrian border. Please, these are the last days of 2012 and if you want to make a tax deductible contribution this is the time to do it.  We need as much help as we can get. Please consider. I know that you are getting requests from a lot of organizations but all we are asking is if anyone reading this can just give us $10 and pass to another person to do the same- we might be able to help the new babies that are being born in these camps.


I shall be posting pictures of the blanket delivery, I hope tomorrow, once I receive them. Thank you everyone that has made a donation.

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