Each year, displaced and poor children in the Middle East die of hypothermia, and conditions related to inadequately living conditions in Syria and Iraq.

We have been supporting an unofficial camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq for more than a year on an ad hoc basis with clothes, hygiene items and food.  This winter, the 62 families have been told by the government that they won't be able to provide winter fuel to warm their tents as they did last year.  Please watch the short video above to see the snowy and rainy conditions they had to ensure last winter.

This little Syrian boy was brought into one of our hospitals in Syria, Emmanuel Hospital with chest pain and a high temperature.  He is from a very poor family.  His father works 12 hours a day trying to put food on the table for his wife and three children. Times have been more tough for them after 5 and a half years of war. Like so many in Syria, they can’t afford winter fuel for their home and there is very little electricity even if they have a supply to their area.

The weather became significantly colder in Syria and temperatures dropped below freezing point a number of times. They also had very heavy rains. It is a struggle for his father to earn enough even to cover the costs of food.  This is normal life for too many families in Syria now, with three quarters of the population living in poverty.

Living with this deprivation over time, he became chronically malnourished like so many children living in Syria. This lowered his immunity and, exacerbated by the freezing and wet weather, he developed pneumonia. We treated him with antibiotics, and gave his family a little food.

He is from one of the many thousands of poor families living around Emmanuel Hospital who have been devastated by the war in Syria. Here you see him wearing layers of oversized clothes, obediently holding the thermometer while his weary eyes stare listlessly at the camera.

What is he thinking? What is he feeling? What are his hopes? Does a poor Syrian boy like this one even dare to have hopes? Could his hopes for the future even be realised in this war torn country where most people’s greatest hope is to escape this deprivation and suffering? What can he expect from the future when his family are too poor to eat satisfactorily or warm their home in sub-zero temperatures. How does his father feel when he works such long hours and yet his children still get sick because they are suffering the effects of malnutrition and inadequate heating?

Friends, please let’s look into those eyes and search our hearts. This is just one child among millions in desperate need in this world that we are part of. Our world. Our community. Can we turn our backs to avoid meeting his eyes? His eyes are looking at us, because they have no one else to look to, and no one else to ask for help.

We may not all be able to change the world for everyone, but we can all change the world for someone. It doesn’t require much from us to bring a ray of light and a glimmer of hope to a child like this, or a family like his.

If you would like to donate to help buy winter fuel, please give through the general appeal on the main GIVING PAGE and mark your donation as "Winter Fuel".