It has been more than eleven years since Syria’s conflict started.
Eleven years of deadly clashes, air strikes and shelling. Eleven years of Syrians being pushed to the very edge of poverty. Eleven years of immense suffering for those who stayed and those who fled to neighbouring countries.
With no end to the conflict in sight, this International Day of Peace (21 September) we are reflecting on the role we can play in supporting Syrians to build stable, robust and sustainable communities.
This hasn’t always been Syria’s story. In 2010, I spent nine months living in the Old City of Damascus and trying(!) to learning Arabic at the city’s University. The country was bursting with colour and optimism. The scent of spices in the souks, streets humming with the sounds of people going about their daily lives and backgammon players sipping hot, sweet mint tea. Doors were thrown wide to welcome strangers like old friends.
When I returned to the UK, I looked on with the rest of the world at the devastating images of the country being torn apart. The multi-coloured cities once full of life turning to dusty, beige ruins with gaping holes where homes, schools and shops once stood. I knew I had to do something to help. So, in 2012, three friends and I set about raising money for Syrians who had been bombed out of their homes.
Since the very start, we have believed in giving Syrians a hand up not a hand-out and in the dignity gained by empowering local communities. We put our confidence in Syrian expertise to run local projects and to deliver aid to wherever it is needed most. Working with local partners, we fund projects that provide health and education and which ensure sustainable employment for Syrian professionals at the same time.
For Syrian children under the age of 12, they have never known their country at peace. We must help prepare them to return to a peaceful Syria one day by giving them the skills and knowledge they will need to rebuild their country. We believe that education is the foundation of building strong, resilient and healthy communities.
With the help of our generous donors, since 2012 we have given over 180,000 Syrians access to healthcare and education. But Syria still matters, there is so much more to do and they need our help now, more than ever.
Please help us by donating. There are also other ways to help, find out more here: https://handsupfoundation.org/#how-you-can-help