These are some of the most moving pictures I have seen from our aid distributions in Syria. This week we distributed in an area of Aleppo freed from Jehadists last year. Displaced people returned with nothing, to find nothing to return to. We invited 500 families to this distribution, but closer to 1,500 turned up. Our relief coordinator in Aleppo said it was the toughest distribution they have done. They were exhausted by the end.
But they were also happy. Happy that they could do something to meet these people in their desperation and need, happy to be able to bring a ray of light and hope into the darkness that this multitude of people have lived for so many years, happy to receive the message this aid sends to them; that the outside world has not forgotten them and that we love them and care enough to do something.
Our Director of Relief and Medical projects in Syria, Dr A said
"When I look back over everything we have achieved I feel amazed, and also terrified. I wish I could explain how dangerous it is is for us to distribute this aid in all of these places, to go and be in the middle of all these people, moving with all this valuable aid. But everything we did was not because we can, but because it is what Jesus wants. He wants us to do this and He is our protector. Nothing has been done by our strength, it is done only by His strength. I wish we could tell everyone 'This is what Jesus did for us. We should be very thankful for Him.'"
This work we do is as important for the givers as it is for the receivers. It is just as essential for you and me here in the West to give as it is for those people there in dire need to receive, and this is just as true for our teams working on the ground. They need our generous support to be able to keep giving and they need our prayers and encouragement to keep finding the strength in their hearts to persevere working in these toughest of environments, reaching out to these most vulnerable people.
It is emotionally exhausting to be faced with this level of need and suffering on a daily basis. So many people doing this kind work switch off or tune out over time as a way of protecting themselves. From the many reports we hear, this is what many aid workers in Syria have done. They start to switch off from the people they are helping and it becomes a job, driven by processes, with an "us" and "them". It is hardly surprising as this kind of work is emotionally exhausting. But we really believe that what these people need is unconditional love and acceptance.
There were so many pictures that touched my heart, it was hard to know which ones to show here. When I look at the pictures of these people, I see the suffering written on their faces, I see the burdens carried on the shoulders of these men, women and children. But I also see the great opportunities for you and me to reach out to them in their suffering and do something to make a difference in their lives.
All of our work, both here and in Syria is done by ordinary people like you and me. For us, the most important qualities in people working with us are the ability and willingness to love and serve, to be able see a need and respond to it. Whether we have something physical and tangible to give or not, what we need most is to give our hearts. Without giving that first, it is so much harder to give anything else.
If I was asked to describe Samara's Aid Appeal, I would describe it as an army of souls who have a call on our lives to love and serve our brothers and sisters in need. We are the people who want the light in our hearts to shine brighter than the darkness that exists in this world, and we are the individuals who understand that this is only possible when we let our compassion guide and motivate us enough to step out of our comfort zone and take action to do something to make a difference. We may not be able to change something for everyone, but if we are willing we can certainly change everything for someone.
To find out more about getting involved in our work please visit www.samarasaidappeal.org/collectors
Thanks so much to everyone who is involved in our work in any way.