ORPHANS & WIDOWS FUND
In June 2016 a woman was brought to our first field hospital 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. A few days later she died.
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, in an already impoverished community, had no ability to work and no social security to offer her or these children a safety net.
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 around 85% of the population are living in poverty, a situation which has been caused by years of devastating war.
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 encouraged 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 crisis in our biggest priority has been to provide basic essentials including food, water, medical expenses, clothes or whatever other essential items to orphans and widows. We are also starting to help widows gain confidence and hope for the future. For example, by helping a widow with children establish a small business like sewing or making and selling food etc. so that she is able to be self sustaining and independent. We are also using the orphans and widows fund to employ staff to work with vulnerable children who have lost one or both parents, spending positive time interacting with children who are living in especially challenging family situations where they may be neglected or abused. Some of these children would be otherwise out wandering the streets during the day.
*Downloading the giving form on the left and making a direct bank payment is the most direct way of giving. Although Total Giving state that they don’t make any charges, the payment providers they ask charities to use, do charge, so a small percentage is deducted from your donation before it reaches us.