15th March 2018
Today marks the seventh year of the conflict in Syria. I remember March 2011 in Damascus. The sun was beginning to shine with more warmth and the Old City was basking in the scent of orange blossom. Cutting through this harbinger of spring was a sense of uncertainty, and strangely, (although it might be hard to believe now) a sense of hope, as the streets filled with people, protests and demonstrations, both anti and pro-regime. In the months that followed, hope turned to disbelief as Syria descended into a conflict that would last longer than WWII.
In the seven years since that spring, Syria and its people have faced some of the most brutal violence in living memory. ‘Red lines’ have been crossed and crimes committed, and – as always – it is the people caught in the middle who pay the price: the children under seven years old who may never have been to school, the students who have been unable to finish their studies, the millions of now refugees who have fled their homes for an unknown future and the millions whose families, homes and livelihoods have been – and continue to be – shattered.
After seven years people don’t want to hear about a conflict with no solution and without hope, it is too wearying, when apparently nothing can be done. But we would say that this is not the case, there is so much that can and must be done. The Syrian doctors, teachers, guards, nurses and cleaners who we support in Syria prove this every day with the work they do. In January one of the Primary Health Clinics we fund in Idlib was hit by an air strike and evacuated. Yet, the 22 staff remained in a makeshift building nearby and carried out 4,000 consultations that month, before the new location was ready. Their extraordinary resilience and courage alone, in spite of the challenges, is enough to assure us that there is something to be done and, crucially, that there is hope. It is a chink of light in a very bleak situation and the least we can do is match that hope with our own.
The Hands Up Foundation supports vital health and education projects in areas where these services have almost completely deteriorated, where possible these projects are inside Syria and run by Syrians.
If you would like to do something yourself, here are some ideas:
Currently we are running an appeal for two of our projects in Idlib: Prosthetic Limbs and a Primary Health Clinic, click here to donate.
2/ Come to a Syrian Supper
We hold monthly Syrian Suppers in East, South and West London and Bristol – tickets and dates here.
3/ Hold your own Syrian Supper
Many people have held their own Syrian Supper to raise funds – let us know if you’d like to hold one: [email protected]
4/ Come to a Singing for Syrians event
There are various Singing for Syrians events coming up over the next few months, tickets and dates can be found under “Events” on the website.
5/ Hold your own Singing for Syrians event
Many people have held their own Singing for Syrians event to raise funds (everything from a band night to toddlers singing group) – let us know if you’d like to hold one: [email protected]