On the Road to Damascus
“I remember the sweet moments in my city when the snow was falling just before Christmas 2013. Looking out through my window our children, with their new hats and gloves, playing excitedly in the snow.
In wasn’t long after that, as the children were getting ready for school that everything changed. The phone rang and a friend warned us not to leave the house as ‘Daesh’ (ISIS) were in the streets nearby.
Refugees on the move
In search of safety & security
When someone chooses to flee their homes to escape the terrors of war, this is not an easy choice. To leave everything they have known and worked for, for an uncertain future. For many of them the decision to flee is just the beginning of their traumatic journey to safety and so often the conditions that they are met with are far from providing them with the shelter and supplies that they need to survive.
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Since the earthquake on 25th April 2015 a further 500 aftershocks were recorded that continued to hamper people’s return to daily life. The shocks in Nepal this past year have not only been physiological, but also political as the country sought to draft a new constitution and faced fuel blockades along their Indian border putting the country into further crisis.
The tent villages of Kurdistan are where the conflicts within Syria and Iraq spill over into human suffering as debris from the ongoing violence.
Through the funds raised in our recent Blanket Appeal we were able to help provide 200 blankets and 90 bags of lentils to more than 30 Syrian and Iraqi families finding refuge in Erbil. Many of these families are living in tents around the city wherever they can find space to camp. They have faced a harsh and difficult winter especially with temperatures dropping to – 4⁰ at night.
For many of the families continuing to find refuge in Kurdistan it is simply a case of surviving. They have already made it through one cold winter and blistering summer, only to face yet another winter away from the places they call home. They lost their homes, their professions and livelihoods. For most of them there is no going back. The number of refugees is remains high with 2 million in Kurdistan alone. One family shares their story of fleeing to Erbil and the reality of their lives to this day.
One of our UK volunteers, Katie Lowe, recently attended our disaster response training in Latvia and shares about her experience. “For me personally, DART was so much more than the actual training itself. I developed practically, socially, relationally, spiritually and mentally. I have never before felt every value, goal and practical action that I aspire to, so closely mirrored by an organisation and group of people. To see unconditional love actioned so tangibly and professionally was a privilege. I left the training with confidence in my skills and 20 new friends.’
The crisis of migrants travelling to Europe has hit the headlines in recent weeks as they desperately seek to find refuge away from a war zone that was once their homeland.
What is it that pushes people to extremes, taking their lives in their hands as they seek safety in another land?
We often think of poverty in material terms, our teams recent visit to Romania saw how a lack of purpose can add to the depth of poverty. Working with a Roma community who make a livelihood from whatever rubbish they can sell. The closure of the city dump they rely on was an even bigger impact on their day to day survival.