By Maria Lozano
Now that East Aleppo has been liberated there is a certain peace in the city and people are coming back home. The destruction and lack of structures are vast and the needs are huge. Food supplies, fuel for heating their houses and electricity are high on the priority list. Since the start of the conflict, the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is channeling urgent help for Christians in Syria. The local project partners are now addressing a very urgent issue for the Christians in Aleppo to ACN - milk for children. The aim of the project is to provide Christian children of Aleppo under the age of ten a certain amount of milk every month. In these times of scarcity, milk is essential for the growth and wellbeing of children. The ‘Drop of Milk’ program was launched in May 2015 and has been ongoing despite the civil war that has ravaged the country.
The project is most appreciated by all the Christian Churches in Aleppo since it is the only program which helps all Christian regardless of their rite or church. It is an ecumenical program. But the financing of the extremely important project is now at risk. Now that Aleppo rates little mention in the media anymore, the outside world is not aware of the situation in the city. The conditions remain deplorable. 80% of the population of Aleppo is displaced and 70% live below the poverty line. The number of families in need of food parcels to survive has increased dramatically. Dr. Nabil Antaki, the Syrian doctor who is coordinating the ‘Drop of Milk’ project has approached ACN for support to be able to keep he milk program running as it is essential for the Christian children in Aleppo.
(Children receive powdered milk supplies in Eastern Aleppo © Aid to the Church in Need)
“We distribute milk every month to about 2 850 children: 2,600 receive powdered milk and 250 receive special milk for infants. Babies, not breastfed by their mother, receive a special infant’s milk. The total number of beneficiaries varies every month depending on the number of births and emigration of the families” explained Dr. Nabil Antaki. The children are Christian of all denominations
Georgina, a mother of three children, explained to ACN how important the project is for her and her family: “Myriam is ten years old; Pamela is six. We are one of the beneficiaries of “A Drop of Milk” project. Both Myriam and Pamela get one kilogram of milk powder every month. Pamela’s health was critical when she was hit by bomb shrapnel in her back, and now that she is recovering, she needs milk to become healthier and stronger. This project is very important for me and my family and I’d really like it to continue.”
The children of Aleppo, already deprived of a fulfilling and peaceful childhood, should not be deprived of milk needed for their growth and health. Aid to the Church in Need has therefore assured Dr. Antaki that the charity will lend its support for the children of Aleppo. Aid to the Church in Need will give $26,500 a month during 2017 to support this vital program.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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For more information or to make a donation to help the work of Aid to the Church in Need, please contact the Australian office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153.
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