Good news from Syria

March 7, 2023 in Featured News, News

Tony O’Riordan SJ has been on the airwaves again giving an update from Syria, one month on (March 6 2023) from the earthquake that devastated parts of the country.

The Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria told listeners to Galway Bay FM (9-10am, 18 mins in) » and RTE Radio One’s Drivetime » (after 6pm news) that people in Aleppo were once again fearing for their lives after another small tremor occurred the previous night. He said that, just as people were beginning to settle somewhat, another tremor triggered nightmarish memories of the first quake a month previously. This was very difficult for Syrians to bear, he said.

But Tony also had good news for listeners. Firstly the weather has improved with temperatures rising daily. Secondly, he said that he and his Jesuit Refugee Service team had begun just begun distributing boxes of food to families all over Aleppo. (See photo). They were giving pasta, grains, olive oil, and other non -perishable goods that would mean families would not be going hungry. And they were able to do this he said, because of the outstanding generosity of the Irish people who had contributed to his appeals in the early days after the earthquake. And he appealed to those listening to keep up the generous response if at all possible by calling the Jesuit mission office at +353 1 8366509 or donating online here »

The money is being put to good use he said, as they can feed a family for a month with 30 euro. The cash also means that the JRS can provide counseling for people already traumatised by the war and now suffering even more. He told Drivetime that they had an impromptu almost group therapy session on Monday with people who came in to collect food boxes. He said what started out as an information session quickly became a meeting of potential healing as people shared their stories with one another.

Tony himself is in good spirits, he says, buoyed up by the resilience of the Syrian people. He spoke of a family he visits whose children have known almost nothing but war, and yet they have grown into kind, personable, lovely teenagers. And he said he was also invited to a wedding that was postponed because of the earthquake but will now take place in the coming weeks – a true example of the strength, fortitude, and life-embracing energy of the suffering citizens of Syria.