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Dear friends,

I would have liked to give you some good news … Indeed, almost a month ago, on February 16, 2020, Aleppo was finally completely liberated. The highway, the famous M5 was reopened, the international airport welcomed, after eight years of closure, the first civilian aircraft. The Aleppins celebrated the liberation….

On that day, I wrote in my notebook: “Hope is now, it is not in the distant future, it is now.”

I believed like many Syrians that peace was knocking on our doors …

Unfortunately, that breeze of fresh air was soon replaced by an asphyxiating desperation.

Turkey has launched an operation in Syria to protect the terrorists. The Syrian army moves towards Idlib while retaking the villages which were under the control of the Al Nosra front.

The main M5 high is again cut off. The fights are raging. Hundreds of young people are losing their lives.

And I wonder:

What’s going on in my country? Why do Westerners treat the jihadists as terrorists when they arrive in their countries, and when the Syrian government tries to eliminate terrorism in Syria, these same Westerners talk about a humanitarian crisis?
Why does the Turkish government allow itself the right to push back the Syrian army which is on its own territory? Why do young people have to die to defend their country from foreign aggression?
As Syrians, do we have the right to decide our fate? Are we puppets in the hands of the great powers without having a say?
Who will bring back to the parents of martyrs their children who fell on the battlefield?

And last week, a meeting in Moscow decided on a cease-fire and a reopening of the M5 and M4 motorways (it links Aleppo to Latakia).

Will this cease-fire resist the violations of the armed groups?

The forgotten of Idlib

The Holy Father invites us to act in favour of the “forgotten of Idlib”.

But who are the “forgotten of Idlib”? Are they mainly the thousands of families who are currently displaced to flee the fighting or are they also the thousands of Christian and Muslim families retained by the jihadists of the Al Nosra front and who, for more than 8 years, have prevented them from living with dignity?

I think of all these families from the villages of (KNAYEH, YACOUBIEH, JDAIDEH AND GHASSANIEH), who had to flee because of the terrorists who occupy their villages. Those who stayed were forced to share part or all of their homes with armed foreigners?

Tell us who are “the forgotten of Idlib”?

Are they the dead cities of northern Syria, archaeological entirely Christian cities

but plundered and destroyed by thieves in the name of democracy and freedom?

If it is true that hundreds of thousands of families fled the war, the real reason should be sought.

The war has transformed people in search of peace and prosperity, to displaced and forgotten people.

In few days, once again, we will remember this fateful date of March 15, 2011 when it all started.

And the war is not over…

It continues announcing to us bad news every day that kills the seeds of hope that

keep us alive.

Don’t forget that we are under embargo. An embargo that affects the population on a daily basis. An embargo that impoverishes the poorest. An embargo that makes us people of beggars.

We need your friendship, your solidarity and your support to explain the suffering of our people. Your prayer supports our daily life, but your action with decision- makers is important.

Tell them that we are people worthy of living humanely like any other people on earth. Tell them that we are people rooted in culture and civilization for thousands of years. Tell them that the Syrian people choose peace as the path to rebuild everything that is destroyed.

The Blue Marists

With our people and for them, we, the Blue Marists, act. We continue to sow this hope.

On February 15, we were received by the President of the Republic and the First Lady. They wanted to thank us for all the services we provided to the local community during all the years of war. They see in us a model of the ideal Syrian society: a model of openness and solidarity, an example of defending the interests of the poorest. They invited us to develop our humanitarian actions.

They insisted on the importance of the values we live and on the programs, we deploy in favour of the employment and of the development of the human person and the place of the woman in our society.

They explained to us their vision for the future of the country and especially during the next step after the establishment of peace.

On the way back, on Sunday February 16, 2020, Aleppo was living moments of joy and jubilation: the western suburbs that were occupied by the terrorists who threatened the city, had just been liberated.

From this moment, we continue to deepen the answer to the question: “What initiatives does the city and its inhabitants need at this stage of peace?”

The Marist projects

Our educational projects “I Want to Learn” and “Learn to Grow” are going well. Children are getting ready to celebrate Mother’s Day, which occurs in Syria on March 21. The teaching of values, sport, music, in the personal accompaniment of each child and often of his family, the interest in the social life and in the mental and physical health form collectively our education that is well anchored in the Marist charism.

The project “Seeds”, with all its components, Lotus and Bamboo, continues to offer young adolescents a space for a foundation of values and the expression of feelings. More than 350 young people benefit from the accompany in their personal, mental and social development.

The project “Cut and Sew” finished its 7th session and awarded diplomas to 17 women who, for 60 hours, regularly attended this training. In addition to their satisfaction and thankfulness, all of them highlighted the quality of the relationship woven between them. Many have noted the value of discovering each other and the importance of working together.

Twenty women are participating in a training as part of the women’s development project. They express their happiness at being trained on different psychological, human, relational and especially personal themes.

This year, we welcomed in our premises the association “The Footprint of Happiness”. It is a workshop for 30 mentally disabled adults. Their presence among us is a blessing from heaven.

We continue, every Wednesday and Sunday, to run activities and to distribute essential food and products to the camp “Shahba”, a camp for displaced persons in the region of Afrin that is occupied by the Turkish army since February 2018. We feel a great weariness among these displaced people. Our presence and our support are a great relief for these families. They have expressed their concern several times if, for one reason or another, we are absent.

MIT organizes training sessions on different topics that interest adults, especially in the fields of psychology, economics and computer science. Growing waiting lists force us to exceed the limits of 24 participants per session.

But it is especially in the training of entrepreneurship for micro-projects that the demand is great. Many people ask to be trained to be able to launch their own micro-project. We are happy to provide to the people of Aleppo this training service which prepares a better future for a multitude of young and older people.

Heartmade is growing rapidly. We have increased the number of seamstresses by hiring several women. We are planning to expand the workshop space. We will open soon a boutique in one of the best Mall in Damascus.

Let’s live like brothers

As I finish my letter, the words of Martin Luther King come to mind: “We must learn to live together like brothers, otherwise we will all die together like idiots.” Let’s live like brothers!

Let’s build the civilization of love together! Let us make our earth a space of harmony! Let us return to men their humanity!
Let us be witnesses of the light! Let’s expand the space of our tent!
Let us hold the hand of the most deprived! Let’s lift our heads!

Let’s form a chain of humanity around our planet.

____________

Fr. Georges Sabe – For the Blue Marists

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