Women helping women
Relief Fund for Syrian women
Women in Syria and in refugee camps abroad are in a desperate situation and need our help
|We, the EBWU Committee, ask you to continue showing love to the Syrian women by giving donations to
“The Relief Fund for Syrian Women”. We cannot help everyone, but you can bring hope and love to someone by giving!!
We need YOUR help.
Please give your donation to
EBWU/ “Relief fund”,
Account number: 272728.
Spar- und Kreditbank Evangelisch-Freikirchlicher Gemeinden eG.
61282 Bad Homburg
IBAN: DE45 5009 2100 0000 2727 28
The Syrian people are suffering because of the ongoing civil-war that seems to have no ending?! According to the United Nations (U.N), an estimated 4.25 million people are homeless inside their own country, half of them are believed to be children. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have been left vulnerable after being forced to relocate from their homes, often multiple times.
People who are living in the war-affected areas are lacking food, shelter and other basic necessities and the education and health services have practically stopped functioning. There has been a total breakdown of local markets and businesses have stopped operating, the people have for the last two years been surviving without any employment or other sources of income. In most places electrical power has stopped functioning, forcing people to resort to using generators. Many people have been cut off by the fights in their neighborhood and are now forced to hide in basements lacking necessary things like shoes, warm clothes and blankets. Without a proper place to live, experiencing lack of food and medical help, the Syrian people are in desperate need of help!
Refugee Camps in surrounding countries
The United Nations refugee agency announced in September that they estimated 5,000 desperate Syrians were fleeing their homes every day, the spiraling violence in the country has now created more than 2 million refugees, adding that there is no sign the “humanitarian calamity” will end anytime soon.
More than 97 per cent of Syria’s refugees are hosted by countries in the immediate surrounding region like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. But also other countries like Bulgaria are hosting an increasing number of Syrians fleeing violence in their homeland.
Member of the EBWU Committee Dimitrina Oprenova, living in Sofia, sent us this report from her visit in a Refugee Camp in Sofia, together with people from her Church:
Visit to the a Refugee Camp in Sofia
We as a church chose the place in Sofia which is in the worst condition. The refugees in Sofia are over 3000 and more are coming. In the place we went to, 450 people are accommodated in awful conditions in an old building which has not been used for years. There are 150 children in this place and they are playing with nothing amongst broken glass windows. Diseases are beginning to spread as there is no sufficient supply of toiletries. We as a church have very little resources, but still we collected some clothes, blankets, duvets and some money. The money was only enough to buy 200 cans of beans as we knew that their biggest need at the moment is for food and toiletries, not for clothes. I had some extra money given for food from a foundation which was only 120 Euros, but we used this to buy 6 boxes of bananas, so that there will be one banana for each person in the camp, as we also knew that fruit and vegetables are not part of their menu. Many of them have only had bread and jam for days.
I did not want to go by myself, I also did not know what to expect, so I asked for people with cars to help us take the things there. 5 cars came including mine. Two families from the church live near the place and they were especially moved and wanted to be part of the visit. I was happy to have a party of another 10 people from the church with me. The gendarmerie took us seriously as well as the refugees.
Upon arrival we were met by the gendarmerie guards who were brilliant and did their job very well. We were able to speak to some of the Syrian men who spoke English and Russian and we especially asked to speak to the women. We were not allowed to go into the building, but we were allowed into the yard and we were able to take as much time as we needed or wanted.
It was a moving experience talking to the women. They gave us a specific list of things they need. The children are also in great need, they don't go to school or study anything, they have no books to read, no toys. I will need to write to brother Nabil and see if they might be able to send us children's story books in Arabic and school books. The weather will soon get cold and then they will really be stuck inside in the smell from the canalization and the mould. We plan to take at least some coloring books for the little ones.
The church in Sofia is willing to do a lot, but our funds are very limited. We can buy things and make packs and deliver them to the women and children especially, but we can not provide funds as we have given so much this year to needy people that we are in a real struggle as our people are poor themselves.
Women are vulnerable to sexual abuse
The overwhelming majority of Syria`s refugees are women and children, making them especially vulnerable to the danger of trafficking, exploration and sexual abuse. Both television and newspapers are giving reports about the horrible conditions in the refugee camps and we learn that desperate times lead to desperate measures. This is true not only for those in the battlefields but also for those responsible for caring for children and loved ones.
Syrian Refugee Women forced into “Survival Sex” was the heading on a letter written by a Christian pastor, from Syria:
“Growing numbers of Syrian refugee women have reached such desperation that they are willing to “sell themselves” in order to provide food and shelter for their children.
The ongoing crisis in Syria and the resultant humanitarian catastrophe for millions is taking an intolerant toll on individuals, families, communities and nations. Reports have been coming out about the rapid growth in the practice that has become known as “survival sex”.
The term alone gives us a clue as the motivations of these women, who are at times prepared to give away their dignity and often sense of humanity for as little as 7 USD at a time in order to scrape together enough to make ends meet to keep themselves and their loved ones alive.”
The women are doing this “survival sex” out of love, but the act has nothing to do with love, it is just a matter of providing food and shelter for their loved ones.
Another heartbreaking result of the war, mentioned in the news, is “the selling of Syrian refugee child brides”. Men from the Middle East and Europe are scouring Syrian refugee camps in order to purchase underage girls, some as young as 12, as child bridges. Some of them end up being sold for use in temporary “pleasure marriages”. One mother said: “As a single mother, I cannot support them. I cannot feed them. I wanted to make sure they are OK.”
For us living in safe environments, it is difficult to understand what these women are going through, BUT let us ask ourselves this question: What would I do in order to ensure my children were fed? What would I do if my loved one was suffering?
Sitting at the EBF Council listening to the stories from the leaders of the Middle-East countries, watching the eyes of these brothers who have some doubts about the result of the outcome this miserable situation the following Bible verses came to my mind and heart.
“Then the king will say to those on his right: ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25, 34-40. ESV translation)
We are sitting in comfort, we see the needs and of course we cannot fulfill all. There are people on the news, begging, crying for help or just watching upon us with their painful eyes, waiting for a solution, for something that might give hope for them.
Everything has its timing. Here is the time, when we have to face the facts, prayer is not enough. If we can do something and we don't do it, it is our sin. Just to wait and watch and not to share what we have maybe that is not of the Lord.
What is on your shopping list when you think about your personal needs – toiletry materials like shower gel, shampoo, balm, panty liners, underwear, tights and much more – many things which are natural for us to change and refresh in normal situations? But what happens if the city is ruined? There are no more shops, no more income to buy; and the small amount of money that these people get is not enough even for a meal.
Show Jesus Christ's image, his love, his presence in the Earth with a glass of water, a piece of bread, with the shelter, with your acts and deeds. Share what you have and experience the wonder, it won't be less but multiplied. And it will bring a smile and hope in the sadness and light in the darkness.
Let the dark be bright, the dry land be sprinkled, the tired refreshed, the sad cheered up, the thirsty quenched, the hungry fed. We can do so!
You and me, women all around Europe, even if it is a small amount we give, it can be multiplied in the hand of God. Join to the EBWU and support this project for our Baptist Sisters in Syria and in the countries around.
Aniko Ujvari, EBWU president