What choices for Syrian children?

While the crisis continues, the people left behind in Syria are in desperate need of humanitarian help.

There are 11.5 million people in need of urgent healthcare provision in Syria. As approximately 200 hospitals have been destroyed, only around 1 in 3 hospitals are functional. Who does that leave to provide emergency medical care for children like the little boy we have seen on the news today?

Without help from outside, children like these will die, and be orphaned in circumstances that could have and would have been different If they had access to emergency medical care.

Let's not simply blame governments for the problems, but do something positive in our own communities, among our friends, in our churches, schools and workplaces.

Let's be the opportunity, not the obstacle for these people.

If our children and families have the chance to grow up in relative safety and have free healthcare when they are sick, please consider what happens to those living in Syria without these basic human rights.

There are practical ways to help. Find out more by requesting an information pack www.samarasaidappeal.org/collectors

The wounded innocents

This is why we are doing what we are doing in Syria.

Every day, innocent children like this boy are injured and killed in a war that they don't understand. We have a small medical team working in the Aleppo area providing emergency medical care to children like this. They are working in very difficult circumstances and it is a continuing challenge for them to providing a primary medical service in such a dangerous area.

Our lead doctor in Syria "Dr A" said

"I have children and every time I see a wounded child like this I feel as as though I am looking at or treating my child. Every time I see a child that has been killed I wonder how I would feel if it had been my child and not someone else's. It could just as easily have been my son.

"Our greatest priority is to keep our team safe and to find enough staff who are willing to work in these most dangerous areas to serve the people."

Our team in the Aleppo area are working without much of the equipment they need. We always have to prioritise what is needed most desperately which often means leaving them without other essential equipment. Part of the problem is the lack of electricity in the area which we need to use much of the equipment.

The cost to human life in this bloody conflict is incomprehensible.

Bombs make no distinction between soldier or child, right or wrong or one side or the other. When a bomb explodes killing our brothers and sisters and their children, it makes no difference who has dropped it, the effect is the same. Every victim bleeds, feels pain and will die if injured severely enough.

These amazing teams who risk their lives to serve these children need our continued support and encouragement. For more information about some of our medical work please visit www.samarasaidappeal.org/medical

A hospital needs electricity

Running hospitals is Syria is more complicated than you could possibly imagine.

Aside from the obvious issues like protecting the team and hospital there are many other challenges to deal with behind the scenes.

One of the hospitals we are supporting is in an area where the fighting is fiercest in Syria and is providing an emergency medical service in the most unbelievable conditions. The team put their lives on the line working in an area where most Syrians wouldn't even visit, yet they don't even have some of the most basic resources needed, like electricity.

That's right, they are running a hospital and performing operations without something as basic as electricity.

There are so many things they are lacking that I can't even begin to list them. Yet the team are so committed. I am so moved by their selfless devotion that I am keen to do what we can to encourage and support them.

One of the things they need most right now is electricity, so I want to buy them a generator. You might think that this would be a relatively straight forward solution except this is fraught with a unique set of complications.

Firstly, fuel to run the generator is very scarce and expensive. Sourcing fuel in Syria is becoming harder and the available fuel is often contaminated which causes both ambulance engines and generators alike to break down. Spare parts are also extremely expensive, especially if they need to be sourced outside Syria.

Until recently we have held back from looking into a solar powered generator. Although it makes perfect sense in a country with such a wealth of sunshine, these types of generator cost around £3-4,000 including the solar panels and batteries to store the power for times when the sun isn't shining.

But I am keen to support this amazing team. I am also keen to get one for our hospital Meljar in the desert as the generator there has broken down twice since it opened in May because of problems with fuel contamination.

However, even what seems like the perfect solution is not straight forward in Syria. One of these generators will be perfect for Meljar Hospital, but for the hospital in the more dangerous area we have had to accept that it would probably be like painting a target on top of the hospital.

In an area where hospitals are so activity targeted there is a strong possibility that the solar panels would appear suspicious as devices for some sort of intelligence or simply as an asset that one of the warring parties might want to destroy. Clearly this would compromise the lives of the team, the patients, the hospital....

Then there is the issue of theft. In an area where there is no electricity, a piece of equipment like this would be a very valuable asset which would attract a lot of attention. It would have to be placed outside to receive the sun's rays, but would also attract the attention of thieves.

But a hospital needs electricity.

We now have a team working hard to adapt an existing device to work with a generator, that will supply electricity by converting bio waste to gas which can then be used to run the generator.

This is a brilliant solution to this problem because waste from the community can be recycled to supply the hospital's power needs. This means that once the costs of the generator and the sustainable fuel producing device have been covered, the fuel for the hospital will be free. The generator can be placed in a safe place where it doesn't attract unwanted attention that compromises the safety of the hospital or the safety of the equipment itself.

Where there is a will, there is always a way!

To see more about our hospitals see www.samarasaidappeal.org/our-hospitals

Aid for displaced families

Aren't these smiles contagious?!

This aid was distributed to displaced families sheltering Eatieteh village, Duhok in Iraq at the end of July. We distributed clothes, shoes, sandals, bedding, baby baskets, walking sticks, and women's hygiene products to 230 displaced Christian, Muslim & Yazidi families who fled from the Ba'asheeqa area.

These families are extremely poor having fled their homes and everything they worked for. They now struggle to find employment and make ends meet. Our aid is restoring a glimmer of hope in their lives which have been turned upside down by conflict. We rely on people like you to collect aid and fundraise in your communities to make this possible.

Every winter, babies, children and vulnerable adults die of hypothermia in camps, unfinished buildings and informal settlements. We need more volunteers to collect winter aid this Autumn through their churches, schools, workplaces and communities.

Can you help us to redistribute some of the excess we have here in the UK to people who are in desperate need?

For more information please request an information pack www.samarasaidappeal.org/collectors

Another hospital opened - thanks to volunteers

Emmanuel* Hospital is now officially open this morning!

This photo was taken less than an hour ago. This girl is 10 years old and was brought in with acute abdominal pain and loss of appetite. This picture shows one of our surgeons examining her and performing an abdominal ultrasound. Our team are waiting for blood results and want to rule out appendicitis.

If she needs surgery it will be done there in our hospital. We have our mobile operating room working with this hospital and have the capacity to carry out open and laprascopic (key hole) surgery.

This hospital is in a very poor area in Syria 1-2 hours drive from the closest hospital. After dark no emergency services will come out to this area as the road is very dangerous and people travelling along it are regularly attacked by armed groups.

This doctor is one of our team, and he is giving his time at this hospital as a volunteer to serve his people.

When the hospital was being painted and repaired ready for service last week, around 100 people from the local community turned out to help.

Dr A said

" I wish you could have seen the people: children, women and the elderly who have come to the hospital to try to help. It is their window of hope. It is the true meaning of 'God with us.'

"I wish you could see the people's smiles and the hope in their eyes. Everyone is saying 'Now we won't die if we get sick at night.' Everyone is saying that this hospital is a gift from God, and they are thanking the people who have made this hospital possible.

"These people are poor, simple and helpless but they are pure, faithful and trusting."

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this hospital which will save many lives and is bringing hope to a community that has been devastated by war and poverty.

Love

Samara

* names of hospitals are changed to protect the safety of our teams in this war zone where hospital and doctors are actively targeted.

Barakat's story - Daily suffering of the people of Iraq

This is Barakat, a Yazidi man from Sinjar, Iraq.

On 3rd August 2014, he heard news that ISIS forces were advancing towards them. That night, ISIS started bombing.

“We were terrified and didn’t know what to do. My wife and nine children were with me. The next day the bombing was so heavy and our neighbours were fleeing. We didn’t have a car so we left on foot heading towards the Sinjar Mountains.”

His cousin brought a truck and they joined other Yazidi families in Solakh and stayed there. 11 days later they heard that ISIS were in the area. Within five hours, ISIS had surrounded them. The ISIS leader was wearing a mask, and approached them. He told them that they were infidels and that they should reject their religion and convert to Islam.

“We weren’t scared at first because there were only a few of them and we knew them. They lived in our neighbouring villages. We could never have imagined that they would kill any of us because they were our neighbours. Many of us worked with them and had gone to school with them.

“The ISIS leader said that we had eight hours to convert to Islam or they would kill us.”

The leaders of the Yazidi tribes gathered there told them that anyone who was able to go should leave immediately. They started trying to get everyone onto trucks, especially the elderly, women and children.

When ISIS saw them they started following. They captured the last two trucks which were carrying Barakat’s mother, two of his daughters, his cousin and 40 other people. The ISIS forces rounded them up and took them. Barakat says

“The other Yazidis kept going towards the mountains but I couldn’t leave my mother, my daughters, my cousin or the rest of my people so I decided to stay with some others to try to free them defend our villages.”

“When we got close to them we heard a lot of loud cries coming from them. We tried to call my cousin. All he could say was ‘we are finished, this is the end for us.’”

“By now there were around 150 of us who had taken up arms and we tried to move towards the mountains. It was the middle of the night. Along the road we could see the ISIS vehicles so we had to lay low and hide. There were so many dead bodies which we couldn’t help stepping on because it was so dark and we couldn’t see properly.

“When it was clear we started walking towards the mountains where all the other Yazidis were going. We reached a valley before the mountains and there were hundreds and hundreds of families fleeing. They were holding torches because it was such a dark night, and it looked like a sea of lights from a distance.

“In the early hours of the morning we reached the bottom of the mountains. We were all exhausted and scared. We were living a horrifying nightmare. We couldn’t believe what was happening to us, and we couldn’t comprehend the situation we were in or how it was possible for anyone to do something like this in this day and age.

“By this time there were around 20,000 people on foot at the bottom of Sinjar. I found my wife and seven children; the youngest was nine months old. We had no news of my two daughters or mother.

“We stayed close to the mountains hoping that this would be the end and that we would be able to go back to our villages, but then ISIS started bombing us.

“We all started running, terrified, to the mountains and there were bombs falling all around us. People were being killed and blown to pieces everywhere. We had to keep going. I will never forget the screams which were so loud and the terrified cries of the wounded. There was chaos and confusion everywhere.

“I was holding my two year old son and my wife was carrying our nine month old baby in her arms as we ran and our other children were running with us. We were frightened for our lives.

“As we were climbing the mountains, lots of people fell off the cliffs and died. Men, women and children. We couldn’t stop to bury them, we just had to move on.

“When we reached the top of the mountains where it was safe, we only had 15 small bottles of water so we had to drink using the lids of the bottles so we wouldn’t run out. We finally reached a deserted military post where we stayed for four days. We found some sheep in the mountains which we ate. I don’t think we would have survived otherwise.

“Some freedom fighters came and urged us to move on to Dohuk or Erbil. I couldn’t leave without doing something to try to save my daughters and mother. After a few days these freedom fighters told us that they wanted to free some Yazidi families from ISIS. I hoped my daughters and mother would be among them and went to help. Hundreds of families were freed but my daughters and mother weren’t there.

“I stayed for five months, every day trying to find and free my daughters and mother, but I have never seen them since. I know in my heart that they are alive and hope and pray that somehow I will see them again. I hope that this pain I carry in my heart will end one day.”

Barakat is one of the internally displaced people living in a small camp that Samara’s Aid Appeal has been supporting around Dohuk with clothes, hygiene items, bedding, shoes and food.

To find out how you can collect aid in your community to help families and people in need of humanitarian assistance fill out your details here www.samarasaidappeal.org/collectors

Urgent help needed for families escaping from ISIS

Today I received an urgent plea from our partners in Erbil in Iraq who are responding to a desperate humanitarian crisis in their area.

They are reporting crimes against humanity where tens of thousands of families are being used as human shields by ISIS.

Some of these people are taking the risk to flee to Kurdistan, to a camp in the village of Dibaga. Our partner says

"We don’t know what ISIS are doing but we can see what they are leaving behind. The road from Shirqat to Dibaga is a three day walk, full of bodies of either people who have been killed by ISIS or children who have died of dehydration.

"Families have left Shirqat with six members and arrive in Dibaga with only 3 or 4. Thousands of families are arriving in a camp of just a few hundreds tents. There is no place for them to stay or find shade from the scorching sun.

"They are in desperate need of the most basic and essential things like water and shade. We have been taking them trucks of water, ice, bread, fruit, canned beans and baby food."

Their team are still there but they need urgent help to continue helping these families who are in desperate need.

A donation of £25 will enable our partners to give a family of four a parcel of food and essentials that will last 2-3 weeks to serve their immediate needs. Please support our brothers and sisters and share this post
www.samarasaidappeal.org/giving

Looking ahead, these people along with the other millions of other internally displaced people in Iraq will also need clothing and other essential aid supplies this winter which we are asking people like you to collect through your churches, communities, schools and workplaces. For more information about how you can get involved please request an information pack here www.samarasaidappeal.org/collectors

Individually we can do so little, but together we can achieve so much. As we enjoy the prospect of a holiday or a break over the summer, please let's keep focused on what we can do to help our brothers and sisters who are facing traumas that we can't even begin to imagine and are struggling to access things as basic as shade, water and food.

Kidnapped doctor released

I am so thrilled and relieved to share the most amazing news with you.

Last weekend I shared the horrific news that one of Dr A's fellow doctors and friends had been kidnapped in Syria and was being ransomed. Dr A has just told me the fantastic news that he has been released!

We are so grateful to all of you who have been praying and fasting with us for his release. Dr A said it was a miracle that he was released. Too often doctors are kidnapped in Syria, their families pay the ransom that has been demanded and they never see their loved ones again.

I can't share all the details but I am so relieved to tell you that he was released, unharmed and is with his wife and children again.

When I heard the news, I kept thinking of Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

We believe in the power of prayer and God's grace and mercy and are so thankful for the release of this good man.

Volunteer hospitals update

Dr A is busy working with the team who will run Emmanuel* Hospital in Syria. We are waiting for the equipment to be delivered and we hope it will open in the next week. We had more than 150 local applicants offering their services as volunteers to work in this hospital! It will be staffed exclusively by volunteer doctors, nurses and support staff and will receive a lot of support from the local community meaning there are minimal overheads for this hospital. Our mobile operating room will be used with this hospital initially.

He also has meetings in the next week with the team who will staff and run Eliana* Hospital which we hope to open by the end of August. They are deciding on the most appropriate building to use and will start work on adapting it to make it fit for purpose. There is also a team of faithful doctors and nurses in this area who will staff this hospital on a voluntary basis, again, making it possible to run this hospital with minimal overheads.

We are also raising funds now for a larger hospital project that will serve a city in Syria. At the moment the only hospital offering free care to the poor in this city is largely dysfunctional and people cannot rely on being able to see a doctor there, have the investigations they need or be given the medications that are essential for treating their conditions. This will be our biggest project yet and we aim to raise £150,000 to support this work.

It is hard to believe that the current set up could be so poor for an area where there are 2 million residents who would be living around this area. When I think that the population of Sussex combined is around 1.6 million, it is hard to believe that such a large area in Syria could be without a proper, free emergency care provision. This is even harder bearing in mind that 3 in 4 people in Syria are living in poverty now. These people cannot afford to pay for healthcare, so what happens to these ordinary people when they are injured in a bomb attack or even just the day to day medical emergencies that people face anywhere in the world?

I used to be a nurse in the A&E department at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, and it was a big and busy department. There were other A&E departments in Haywards Heath, Worthing and Eastbourne, but it was still a big and very busy department. It is simply unimaginable that an area with a population of this size could be without a proper functioning hospital to serve these people in need, especially in a war zone where there are so many traumas.

The WHO reported recently that the life expectancy in Syria has dropped by 20 years, and the fact that emergency care is so terribly lacking gives a practical illustration of the process that leads to that.

I ask myself how the people in these areas cope with the battles life throws at them. Simply, they have no choice. They have to accept. What are their options? To accept, or to accept? Even if they don't want to accept, what can they do? What do they have with which to fight against this injustice? They have no choice but to accept death in situations where we would not accept something much less troubling.

When I think of the contrasts that exist between what we expect as our rights to healthcare here in the West, compared with what the Syrians have to accept, it really breaks my heart. Just some of the things I hear people complaining about here in the UK like having to wait a long time for an ambulance, when in Syria you would be lucky if you even had access to an ambulance. Our medical teams have cared for patients injured in explosions where patients seriously injured in a bomb attack were taken to hospital in the back of a pick up truck, or carried in people's bare hands. People complain about having to wait in A&E for a couple of hours, but in Syria people may not even be seen if they aren't ill enough or even if they are too sick.

They have to function on the basis of disaster management when dealing with such large numbers of sick and wounded at the same time. Patients who are not sick enough may not be treated, and those who are too sick may also have to be left. The focus has to be on the people somewhere in the middle who may die if not treated, but who stand a chance of recovery with treatment.

As a former nurse, I find it hard even to imagine having to make these kind of judgement calls for patients. Who do you try to save, and who do you leave? Can you turn away from the mother desperately trying to get someone to take a look at her four year old daughter who is in great pain and crying, while there is a young man who may lose his leg if he doesn't get immediate attention to deal with his wounds. The decisions they have to make are much tougher. It is life and death they are dealing with.

When we consider the luxuries that we have with free emergency care when we need it, and even perhaps when we don't, I ask ask each of us to consider what we could do to help our brothers and sisters in Syria who have no luxuries in healthcare. Please consider whether you could help us fundraise for our hospitals in Syria which are saving lives in areas where there is no emergency medical provision for people in need.

Every coffee morning, cake sale, non-uniform day at your child's school or school fair, every dinner or auction, every business that nominates us as their charity for the year, every charity car wash, bridge afternoon, every pamper day or evening, every marathon or sporting event, every ice cream sale, every music event.....the list of fundraising possibilities is bigger than I can think of. But every event you organise will save lives in Syria.

Please friends, give some thought about what you could do to make a difference to these people in Syria who have no choice but to accept.

Love

Samara

Hope and tenacity of humanity in the middle of enormous adversity and conflict

This story has really touched me. This amazing 22 year old man was treated in our emergency department at Meljar hospital in Syria this week. The treatment we have been able to provide has changed what could have been a very hopeless future for his family to a future where they stand a chance to live with dignity.

Some time ago this young man's parents were killed in the conflict in Syria. He lives with his younger sister, and two brothers who are primary school age. They had to flee their home and have settled in an area very close to our hospital.

He had been at university studying marketing, but because his parents died he was forced to stop his studies and take on the role of breadwinner for his younger sister and brothers.

He has been working as a blacksmith fabricating metals and has been able to support his younger siblings. He has managed to provide a relatively good standard of living for his family and they have some of the basic things we would expect like a fridge and washing machine. Many people don't have these basic items in Syria. Last week he heard some noises around their home in the night.

He went to see what was going on, and disturbed some thieves who were armed with knives and a gun. Because he saw their faces they wanted to kill him. By this time other people had started to gather around to help him.

He sustained multiple fractures to his hand and multiple lacerations to his hand and arm. One of the lacerations on his arm caused an aterial bleed. If not treated immediately, a person can bleed to death within 10-15 minutes. Thankfully there was someone who came to his rescue who was trained in first aid and they put pressure on his wound, but it was difficult to stop the bleeding.

It took just five minutes to get him to our hospital and our team rushed him to the operating room where they successfully stopped the bleeding. This man will hopefully be working again in a few weeks which is essential as his family are depending on him. This man's hands are his livelihood and without the use of this hand he would be unable to continue his work. The effect on his family would be devastating.

One of the things that touched me most about this story is this young man's beautiful heart and the love and commitment he has to the important people in his life.

You may notice that one of these pictures shows this man wearing what appears to be a wedding ring. Actually, he is not married, at least not yet.

Some time ago he fell in love with a young woman and they want to get married. They got engaged, but they are Muslims and in their culture he needs to pay a dowry to her family before they can get married which he can't afford yet. He also needs to be able to pay for the wedding and buy lots of items for their home together. He wears this ring even though they are not married yet and lives in hope for the day that they will be able to get married.

It is very unusual to see a picture of a hand injury with a person still wearing a ring on their finger. Removing any rings is a priority because as the hand and fingers swell, the blood supply to that finger can become restricted and the patient could lose this finger.

When I was an A&E nurse I had many discussions with emotional patients who did not want me to cut off their wedding or engagement rings.

When our team in the emergency department explained that they needed to remove his ring he refused, telling them he would rather die than take it off.

The nearest hospital would have been at least two hours drive for this man if our hospital had not been there. With an aterial bleed like this he might not have survived this journey. The treatment we have given him means he will be able to continue to work and support his family.

Now there is hope for his younger sister and two brothers, and also for a young woman who hopes to marry a young man who, in the middle of such a tough living environment, we be a loving and committed husband. This is a story of hope and the tenacity of humanity in the middle of enormous adversity and conflict.

Thank you to everyone who is supporting this hospital.

We hope to open our second hospital, Emmanuel, in the next couple of weeks.

Please continue to support this essential work. Every standing order supporting these hospitals goes directly to paying for our hospitals. For more information on how you can support this life saving work please visit www.samarasaidappeal.org/hospital-appeal

Thanks so much.

Love

Samara

To protect the lives of our medical teams we change the names of the hospitals, and do not reveal the identities of any of our staff.

Kidnapping of doctors in Syria

Please could I ask for your urgent prayers for a fellow doctor and friend of Dr's A's who has been kidnapped in Syria. He is a specialist doctor who has a wife and children and is one of the best doctors in his field in Syria. He was recently taken from his home and his captors have demanded a ransom from his family.

I have to keep the details vague to protect the teams out there, as well the doctor and his family. Even if the family were able and willing to pay this ransom, the chances of him returning home are very small.

There are now numerous gangs operating in Syria and it is common for these kidnappings to take place. A ransom is demanded and on many occasions families have paid these but never saw their loved one again. No-one is sure what happens to them, whether they are killed or in the case of doctors whether they are forced to carry out illegal operations for these gangs. We have good reason to believe that some of these gangs trade in illegally harvested human organs.

Please pray for a miracle for this man and his family, because a miracle is what is needed. If you feel able please join me in fasting and praying for his safe return and for his family. He was a good man and doctor who would not take money from patients who were too poor to pay for their treatment. Please also pray for the people who have taken him, that their hearts will be changed and that they will see and understand the reality of what they are doing.

Please also pray for the safety of all of our medical teams in Syria who risk their lives simply by staying in Syria and continuing to work in the medical field. In trying to save the lives of others, their own become targets and they have no way of protecting themselves or their families. These medical teams sacrifice more than we can possible imagine simply to help people. They deserve as much support as we can give them.

Love

Samara

Bag A Smile Project, Gloucestershire

An enormous thank you to the lovely ladies who run the "Bag A Smile" project in Gloucestershire, and all the people who have donated to their appeal. They filled 147 "dignity bags" for displaced women and teenage girls. They raised the money and lovingly put together each of these bags which our partner has distributed this week to displaced women and girls in Dohuk city in Iraq.

These women and girls are living in informal camps, settlements and unfinished buildings which you can see below. Displaced people (IDP's) living in these circumstances tend to be missed by the larger aid organisations who usually focus on the formal camps meaning that IDP's living outside these big camps are often trying to survive in more difficult circumstances.

The need for these bags has become very apparent over the last 18 months during our aid distributions. Our partner in Dohuk has been faithfully distributing our aid for the last 20 months and he is so thoughtful and intuitive when it comes to observing and communicating the needs of the people there.

Often, his sister goes with him to distribute our aid. He told me that every time he takes his sister, the displaced women always go to her asking whether they have any sanitary towels. Usually, we don't have anywhere near enough to match the number of women and girls in need in these places.

The amazing ladies at Bag A Smile also raised £1,000 which has helped us buy the operating table for our new mobile operating room which will be used as part of our second emergency hospital in Syria. We are hoping this will be opening in the next few weeks.

We will be starting a new aid appeal very soon, and would love people like you to collect aid in your churches, schools and communities for us to send to the Middle East. The word enormous really doesn't come close to describing the size and scale of the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.

We have so much to give here in the West, and this is an easy way for everyone and anyone to get involved and do something practical that relieves the suffering of our brothers and sisters. It is also hard to describe the sense of purpose and meaning that people here in the UK gain from being involved in this essential and in many cases, life saving, work that we are doing. The work that we are doing through Samara's Aid Appeal is a ministry of love, and it is just as important for the people who are giving as it is for the people who are receiving.

To find our how you, your church, school or community can get involved, please fill out the form on this page, ensuring that you click on the link in the email you receive after you press the submit button. www.samarasaidappeal.org/collectors

Thanks so much.

Love

Samara

The cost of loss in war for young girls in Syria

I searched my heart about whether or not to share this story because it is so challenging, but I feel that people need to know what is happening in Syria.

The media never portrays the reality, the cost of human life and the breakdown of both society and humanity in a place like Syria. Sometimes, the darkness that exists is so dark that it is hard for the people in the middle of it to even believe that they will ever see light again. The destruction and wounds to people's hearts and minds are more devastating than the wounds that are inflicted on their bodies.

Yesterday Dr A was working in one of our medical team's facilities in an area where the fighting is fiercest and life is very tough. I could feel the heaviness in his heart as he described to me the darkness that is surrounding people's souls in Syria. He told me about the disturbing stories of the people they were treating there yesterday. He told of me about the dead man that was brought in to them who was killed because his brother wanted his money, and the mother and daughter with the most heart breaking story.

This 13 year old girl was brought in by her mother. She 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 Dr A 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; things you can imagine, and things you can't.

Her father had been a teacher but he was killed in the war in Syria. They were an ordinary and respectable family.  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 her mother came to her and said she needed her help. This was when her nightmares really started.

Society in Syria has broken down so much that in these areas there is no longer any proper power or government body to protect girls like this or follow their cases or even to prosecute the parents.

This is such a challenging location and there is so much poverty and conflict around this area. The building they are using as a small hospital is damaged from previous attacks and there are holes in some of the walls which need to be repaired. The staff and the patients are plagued by mosquitos as they try to work and sleep. They have a little bit of food but because there is no electricity supply and fuel is so scarce and expensive they can't store it.

This medical facility is so primitive but also so essential because so many hospitals in this area have been destroyed, and there is so much conflict. The area is so dangerous that no one in Syria is willing to go to work there. The medical team is exclusively made up of volunteer doctors and nurses from the surrounding area who are committed to serving their people whatever the cost. But there aren't enough of them to serve the needs.

Last night Dr A spent the night there with his team, but there isn't anywhere appropriate for them to sleep when they need to. They have some beds but not enough. The doctors, nurses and patients alike just try to find anywhere they can to sleep, and the staff take turns to have somewhere to lie down according to who needs it most.

When I asked Dr A more about the young girl I have told you about he replied

"Samara, this is just one of so many stories."

He told me

"We do our best to keep smiling in front of our patients, but sometimes we can't hold it anymore and break down in tears.

"Last night, before I fell asleep I wondered what would happen if I died. What would become of my wife and four children? What if I had a young daughter, what would become of her?"

I believe this young girl's and her mother's life would look very different if her father was still alive. How desperate does an ordinary mother have to become to be willing to sell her daughter's body so they can eat? I'm sure every one of us would like to believe that there is nothing on earth that would bring us to do something like this to our own child, but what do we know or understand about it until we are faced with the reality of a horrendous situation like this?

The lives that our medical teams are saving through our hospital and those that we are supporting are so precious. If we save the life of a father we don't simply save his life, but we save the dignity and humanity of his wife and children too. The death of a breadwinner who has dependents in a place like Syria where 67% of the population are living in extreme poverty, has a much wider impact than just the loss of one life. It will literally devastate the lives and futures of the whole family.

Please help us to continue the essential work we doing in Syria through our medical teams.

We need to raise £20,000 every month in standing orders to support our hospital, and we are fundraising to cover the costs of opening two more. We currently have nearly £4,500 a month which is great but more is needed.http://www.samarasaidappeal.org/hospital-appeal/

Could you help us to back a bed, or sponsor doctor? I have just put some fundraising resources on the website that you can use to plan fundraising events in your churches, communities, schools and workplaces. 
http://www.samarasaidappeal.org/fundraise/

Dr A told me that when he was returning home after his time at this medical facility he was so upset by the things he was dealing with that he made a promise to Jesus that he would stay there and fight for these people to the end, no matter what the cost.

These courageous doctors and nurses deserve our full support because they are the heros in this battle. But they need help from outside to continue this essential and life saving work.

We may not be able to stop the bombs from falling or the guns that are shooting, but we can support the people inside Syria. We need to work together to bring a glimmer of hope to these people who are surrounded by darkness and are exhausted by more than five years of conflict and a worsening social situation.

Every one of us has something to give and we can all do something to improve the lives of these people. £10, £20 or £30 per month wouldn't change the lives of many of the people reading this message, and I am so grateful to all of you who are already supporting our medical teams with standing orders.  But every penny donated to our appeal goes directly to funding our hospitals and supporting our medical teams.  This money will save lives, and prevent more girls like this from having to go through this sort of physical, psychological and emotional trauma.

Will you help us bring some love and care to these traumatised people?

Love

Samara

Shoes are precious.....

An enormous thank you to Start-Rite shoes for the large donation of new shoes they gave us some months ago. They have been distributed this week to children living in camps for internally displaced people in Iraq. Some of these pictures are from a camp outside Dohuk in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq. Shoes are such a precious relief item in these areas as they are expensive.

Many of you will know that shoes were the inspiration behind Samara's Aid Appeal.

When I first heard reports that there were children living in refugee camps in the Middle East in winter wearing flip flips in the snow, I was heart broken to think that this was possible in this day and age.

While my 15 month old learnt to walk in the comfort of a centrally heated home with more clothes and shoes than we needed, other mothers were having to raise their children in tents in the snow without something as basic as shoes or winter clothes. They had fled in summer with just the clothes they had been wearing at the time.

What broke my heart most of all was the realisation that we had allowed this to happen. You and me. We have so much in the West, while these people were dying of hypothermia in camps across the Middle East in snow storms and sub zero temperatures. When I thought of the excesses of clothes, shoes and warm bedding that we have in the UK, tucked away in our cupboards and attics, I couldn't sit by without doing something to try to send some of what we have to those people who had nothing.

In August 2014, I set out to fill one lorry of winter aid to send to Iraq. Today, we loaded and sent the 46th consignment to the Middle East. Last month we opened a hospital in Syria and we are working towards opening two more.

Everything we do is possible because of you, and only because of you. Every person who collects aid in their communities, churches and schools makes this work happen. I am grateful to all of you, and the people like Ben who contacted Start-Rite for us to ask for an organise this donation of shoes. It is through people like you that we have been able to clothe more than 100,000 people in less than two years.

For more information about how you can get involved and do something practical to help the 23.5 million people in need of humanitarian help in Syria and Iraq, please request an information pack throughwww.samarasaidappeal.org/collectors

Thanks so much.

Love

Samara

Bringing smiles into IDP camps in Iraq

This video made me smile today. The football they are playing with made lots of beautiful little children in Iraq smile too. We were donated lots of footballs and flip flops by the Medi Oliver Foundation which our partners distributed last week in a camp for some of the 3.2 million internally displaced people in Iraq who have fled ISIS. Many of these people lost everything they owned when they fled, and left with only the clothes they were wearing.

These are some of the children living in that camp. I didn't want to edit this video because the sound of these children laughing and playing is so beautiful and better than any music that we could have found to accompany this.

The Medi Oliver Foundation was started by two very courageous parents after they lost their 11 year old son in an accident. He was a beautiful boy with such a generous spirit always doing something to help other people, especially other children who were suffering or living in poverty. These amazing and inspiring parents now dedicate their time to raising money to improve the lives of other children living in less fortunate situations, in memory and honour of the son they have lost.

Thank you for your compassion and commitment to challenging injustice.

Love

Samara

Bringing hope to the hopeless

We are in the business of bringing hope to the hopeless. There are 11.5 million people needing urgent healthcare provision in Syria. Hope is something that many Syrians have lost. This is the reason that people are risking their lives and the lives of their children and fleeing the country by the millions.

But there are still 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian help who are still inside Syria, and accessing relief and emergency medical care in this war zone is very difficult for many people while 3 in 4 people are living in poverty. At the time that people in Syria need emergency medical care most, it isn't available for much of the population.

We have opened an emergency hospital in Syria. We are also establishing a mobile operating room and will be opening more hospitals to meet some of these needs and bring some hope in this devastated country.
The healthcare provision we have in the UK is something most of us take for granted, but this is something everyone can get involved in to make a difference. We are working to the goal of raising £20,000 per month in standing orders to support our hospitals. Currrently we have commitments for nearly £4,500 which is really exciting, but we still have a long way to go.

For more information about how to get involved, please contact http://www.samarasaidappeal.org/hospital-appeal

This week in our Emergency Department in Syria

I am so grateful to everyone who has been supporting our new emergency hospital in Syria since it opened in May. This picture was taken this week in our emergency department and shows a man's leg wound being sutured after he was injured by a landmine.

This young man is one of the 6.5 million internally displaced people in Syria who is trying desperately to make ends meet. He was originally a university student studying marketing, but he and his family were displaced by relentless violence and fighting in their home town. He fled with his elderly parents, four sisters and young brother.

Now they are living below the poverty line and he has been unable to continue with his studies. Instead the responsibility of being the breadwinner for his family falls on his shoulders. He has managed to find some work on a farm which was what he was doing when he was injured by this landmine.

Our medical team x-rayed his leg to ensure that there was no damage to his bone. They cleaned and sutured his wound, gave him pain relief and discharged him with a course of prophylactic antibiotics. We provided all of his care free of charge.

The risk of infection and complications would have been high without treatment, and he would not have been able to afford to go to the nearest city to have his wound treated if our hospital had not been there. Because of the support of people like you, he will hopefully be back to work in a couple of weeks and will be able to continue to provide for his family. When we treat one person like this, it has a much greater benefit to a wider circle of people than the just the individual we have treated.

For more information about how you can help support our hospitals in Syria please visit http://www.samarasaidappeal.org/hospital-appeal/

Thank you so much.

The cost of conflict

This beautiful little girl is three and a half years old. She is the same age as my youngest son, but she is Syrian.

Her nationality shouldn't matter or make a difference. But it does.

The place a person is born and the passport they hold shouldn't shape the outcome of their life, their opportunities or their rights as a human being to safety, protection or a future. But it does.

A few months ago, this precious little girl was injured in a devastating bomb attack carried out by IS in Syria. This bomb claimed many lives, both those who were killed, but also those whose lives have been changed forever.

One of our medical teams cared for this little girl, I feel I should say at the most difficult time of her life. But I find myself wondering whether it was the most difficult time of her life, or whether that is still to come?

What can anyone say to this amazing little girl now, about the reason she was injured in such a horrific way? Is there a reason? How will her guardian explain to her why she has to grow up with no parents? How will he explain to her why she looks so different to the other people she sees every day, why she may never get married or have children of her own, or why she can't even hold a pencil to learn to draw or write?

Before I had children, I used to be an A&E nurse. Dealing with serious traumas is always disturbing, but there are some patients you deal with who are written on your heart for life. This little girl is one of the many, many patients written on the hearts of our medical teams in Syria who risk their own lives and the safety and future of their families to care for little children like this.

The pages of their hearts are full now. They are filled with the faces of the multitude of traumas they have dealt with in the last five years in Syria. I hesitate to use the word conflict to describe the situation there because it sounds so clinical and detached from the reality of the other world that exists in Syria, which looks so different from our own.

But this is not unusual in Syria, this is everyday life. It is just another bomb. Just another terrorist attack. This little girl is simply one of the 1.2 million people injured in Syria in the last five years.

I'm sorry to share such a heart breaking picture with you, but how long can we continue to close our eyes and hearts to the suffering that exists? We may not be able to do everything, but we can all do something. We may feel helpless when we see images like this, but we all have something to give. If you don't feel you have money to give then give your time. That is my gift and I'm grateful to have this precious resource to give because many, many lives are being changed through our work.

Because everyone helping our cause here in the UK is a volunteer, it enables us to channel every penny we raise to the cause we raise it for.

This is our world, our global community and these are our brothers and sisters. This is our daughter and our niece; she is part of our family.

There are 11.5 million people in Syria in need of urgent healthcare provision. Nearly 60% of the hospitals in Syria have been destroyed or are functioning at a reduced capacity. So when little girls like this are injured, access to urgent and essential medical care is very limited and in many areas the journey to reach emergency medical care is too long and many lives are lost on the journey to hospital.

We have just opened a new emergency hospital in Syria in an area where there was no medical provision because all the hospitals have been destroyed. We are in the process of establishing a mobile hospital which can be moved to the areas it is needed most. We have also made the decision this week to open another hospital in an area where a community of committed Christian Syrian doctors and nurses are willing to staff this hospital as volunteers to serve their people.

Could you help us fundraise to support our hospitals and medical teams working on the frontline in Syria? Could you host a coffee morning, a dinner, a bridge afternoon or a concert? What we need most is to raise support in the form of monthly standing orders so we can cover the monthly operating costs of our hospitals. If you would like to find out more about helping us fundraise please CONTACT me.

Love

Samara

Supporting four IDP families in need of food assistance, Bekhitmeh village, Dohuk, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Supporting four IDP families in need of food assistance, Bekhitmeh village, Dohuk, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

The Government’s public food distribution system is currently stretched to its limits in much of the country. Production and supply shortages, and increases in demand have forced up the cost of basic commodities, including food. Families across the country, particularly in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where the population has increased by 30 per cent, have been unable to cover basic needs.