ORPHANS & WIDOWS
In June 2016 a woman was brought into our hospital, Meljar in Syria. She had been seriously injured in a land mine explosion while farming. Her husband was killed at the scene. They had five children of their own and were also supporting her sister-in-law with her two young children who they took in when she was widowed.
The mother-of-five was in need of blood transfusions, multiple operations and there was a possibility that she would loose her leg.
Two days later I asked our lead doctor in Syria for an update about her leg. Reluctantly, he told me that she was in multi-organ failure. She was dying.
I was distraught as I tried to comprehend what this loss meant for the remaining family. One widow would be left caring for seven children, five of whom were orphans. She was alone.
This widow and mother had no other support, no ability to work and no infrastructure in their society to offer her or these children a safety net. They had no hope.
I could not get these children or this widow out of my mind. As I thought about this family, I felt a sense of the desperation and hopelessness they must be feeling. One thing that was clear was that they needed support.
In Syria where 85% of the population are living in poverty, orphans and widows like these are forced to make unimaginable choices just to by bread.
In July 2016 a woman brought her 13 year old daughter to one of our medical teams in Syria. The girl had multiple bruises and injuries to her thighs and genitals as well as an infection. She had scars from previous attacks and was in a very poor state. When our doctor examined her she refused to speak. She just wanted pain relief. When he pushed her to tell him what had happened, the girl broke down in tears and told him her story.
Her father had been a teacher and they had lived a normal life before the war, but he was killed in the conflict. Over time her mother became more and more desperate trying to make ends meet. She started to have dealings with people who asked more and more of her. One day, the girl's mother came to her and said she needed her help. This was when her nightmares started.
When the breadwinner of a family dies, the emotional loss is devastating. But the loss of financial stability in such a tough environment can have the most devastating and life-changing impact of all. When the options are to eat or not to eat, people are forced to make choices that most people in the West cannot even begin to imagine being faced with.
In the current crisis in our biggest priority is to provide food, water and other essential items to orphans and widows and the most vulnerable people in the countries we are working in in the Middle East. Our teams on the ground will respond to the needs of each family on an individual basis, asking them what they need help with and responding to these needs.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If we make a commitment to support the most vulnerable people, we need to be able to commit to helping them regularly. For this reason we would ask you to support a widow or child with food and essentials as a regular giving commitment each month by standing order or direct debit using the form below. The needs of each family are different, so we haven't specified an amount per child or per family. However, it costs approximately £30-35 to buy adequate food for one child each month. For babies that have lost their mother or if their mother cannot feed them, baby milk is expensive and it can cost around £15 per tin of formula which lasts a few days depending on the baby.