Imagine sleeping in a field on a bitterly cold night. There is a biting whistling wind that is keeping you awake. It is lashing it down with rain, some of which has seeped into your tent, making it increasingly damp inside. You and your family are freezing, wet and miserable and desperate to escape to somewhere dry, warm and cosy.
Some of you may have experienced this on a camping trip one time but were lucky that it was soon over. For thousands of people displaced by the war in Syria, there is no such escape. Winters are hard in the Middle East when temperatures plummet. Living in tents or very precarious accommodation all the time means vulnerable families are constantly exposed to the elements and are susceptible to illness. With little funds to afford medical bills, getting something like pneumonia can be fatal.
Every year, our relief arm MERATH (Middle East Revive and Thrive) helps vulnerable families prepare for winter so they are in a better position to survive whatever the weather throws at them. Working through church partners, we provide winterization items to keep families warm like mattresses, blankets, stoves, heaters, clothes and fuel vouchers. Last winter we gave over 20,000 winter items.
One person that has benefited from our winterization program is Imali and her seven children. They know what it’s like to be freezing cold and in danger from when they lived during the war in Syria. “We started getting bombs hitting our town,” says Imali*. “For the two years we lived in this war zone it felt like 12 years. It was like we had gone back in time. We were washing our clothes in a pot and cooking over a stove outside. Our kids weren’t in school but spending their days looking for anything resembling wood to burn.”
Imali and her children eventually fled to Lebanon and ended up living in a tent. They soon got support from a nearby church that partners with MERATH. “The church came to us from the beginning and to this day they are the only ones helping us,” Imali says. “They came with mattresses, a stove and other winter items.”
Like thousands of other families, this support from MERATH and the church got Imali and her children through the harshness of winter. Right now, MERATH is preparing to do the same for hundreds of families as we enter this year’s winter season. And that is where you come in. LSESD and MEBO are running a Christmas appeal to support vulnerable families this Christmas in Lebanon and Syria. We are raising money towards items like blankets, stoves and mattresses to keep families warm this winter. Our Christmas appeal is also going towards education programs to give hope to these families all year round by enabling children who are not able to go to school the opportunity to attend a non-formal educational center MERATH supports.
It costs just $100 to keep one family warm during a harsh winter and $90 to provide quality non-formal education for an out-of-school child for a month. Could you contribute towards that or you or your church could possibly donate all of it? To make your donation go to the MERATH giving page on the MEBO website and select Basic needs (for winterization) or Education and Child Protection (for education programs). Please give generously so more families like Imali’s survive this Christmas and beyond. Thank you.