Industrialization could help Africa’s cities

Cities in sub-Saharan Africa are growing fast. Yet urban economies across the region are markedly different from those of other cities around the world: they are more expensive to live in and less industrial.

One estimate suggests that food and drink cost 35% more in real terms in sub-Saharan African cities than in other countries, while housing is 55% more expensive. The average urban household in sub-Saharan Africa spends 39% to 59% of its budget on food alone.

The high price of basic goods and services means that people living in African cities have little money to spend on reducing risk, such as upgrading their homes, preventative health care or buying insurance.

Urbanization has historically been closely linked to industrialization. In sub-Saharan Africa, urbanization is taking place without industrialization. This means that jobs and livelihoods too often remain low-skilled and poorly paid. Without the opportunity to develop skills and organize collectively, workers exert little influence over working conditions.

There are ways around these problems. Manufacturing jobs offer income security and skill development. Local employers in the public and private sector benefit from new knowledge and skills, while workers can accumulate capital. This offers a path out of poverty. 

 [PreventionWeb]

PowerMyLearning educational tool

Elisabeth Stock has always been driven to work toward a more just world. It was what led her to volunteer as a teacher for the Peace Corps in West Africa in her early 20s, and it’s what ultimately motivated her to found PowerMyLearning, an educational technology nonprofit, in 1999.

“I wanted to join the Peace Corps because I felt like there was this deep unfairness in society,” she says. “Is it just and fair that where you are born predicts whether you can reach your human potential?”

The key to providing equal opportunity for everyone, says Stock, is through education. To that end, PowerMyLearning uses technology to improve the relationships that are crucial to the learning process — namely, the impact that teachers and parents have on a student’s promise to excel. “What we’re really about is empowering all of them — the kids and the adults — to learn together,” she says. That empowerment is translating to real, measurable results.

Technology is a crucial part of this process, but the company approaches it in a decidedly different way than most ed-tech outfits do. We realize that what you really need to do with technology is focus on the learning relationships.”

PowerMyLearning uses a combination of services and tools to reach everyone involved in a child’s education. The organization’s online platform, called PowerMyLearning Connect, curates the best available videos, interactive games and other online resources to help students master complex topics. PowerMyLearning also provides coaching to teachers, especially those who are early in their careers, and conducts workshops where families can learn about what their kids are doing.

[Daily Good]

Closing an HIV lifeline in Africa

President Trump’s re-introduction of the policy banning US government funds from going to organizations with any links to abortion jeopardizes a wide range of healthcare clinics in dozens of countries because family planning advice is often bundled up with other provision.

In all, nearly $9bn is at stake, and hundreds of thousands of women could be affected. Such drastic cuts will inevitably mean the end of programs that have nothing to do with abortion but which provide vital support to people living with the physical, psychological and social implications of HIV.

In Mozambique alone, figures from 2015 show that about 110,000 children aged 14 and under were living with HIV.

Amodefa – the Mozambican Association for Family Development— has various social projects on HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, sexual and reproductive health, and sexual rights. The lives of the poorest women in southern Africa depend on organizations such as this. Yet they will be among the worst affected by Donald Trump’s crackdown on family planning groups around the world. Advocates across the region say the move risks undermining progress in tackling HIV and AIDS in southern Africa, one of the areas hardest hit by the epidemic.

“Projects already approved run the risk of being cancelled, and those that are already ongoing run the risk of not being renewed when they come to an end in September, said  Amodefa director Santos Simione. USAID currently provides $2m of the organization’s $3m annual budget.

[The Guardian]

The value of water is on the rise

In the wake of recent water-related disasters in Bangladesh, including water-logging and floods that displaced thousands of families, a high-level consultation in the capital Dhaka on valuing water will look at ways to optimize water use and solutions to water-related problems facing South Asia.

On July 31, ministers, senior and local government officials, businesses and representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and development partners will attend the Fourth Consultation on Valuing Water to be held at the BRAC Center in Dhaka. Regional cooperation will be a critical component in solving these interrelated problems.

While Bangladesh has been heavily affected, it is hardly alone in grappling with both chronic shortages and overabundance. In India, nearly two dozen cities face daily water shortages; in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, people wait in lines for hours to get drinking water from the city’s ancient stone waterspouts; in Pakistan, the Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warned that the country may run dry by 2025 if authorities didn’t take immediate action.

Dr. Azharul Haq says the “nuisance value” of water is going up. Water is declining across the world day by day, both in quality and quantity. Freshwater – a finite resource – is under particular pressure from population growth worldwide and other causes, compounding the challenges of extreme climate events like droughts and floods.

[Inter Press Service]

Angelina Jolie on the Syrian humanitarian situation

Excerpts of speech by Angelina Jolie Pitt, UNHCR Special Envoy for Refugee Issues, before the United Nations Security Council :

Since the Syria conflict began in 2011, I have made eleven visits to Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Malta.

I think of the mother I met recently in a camp in Iraq. She could tell you what it is like to try to live after your young daughter was ripped from your family by armed men, and taken as a sex slave.

I think of Hala, one of six orphaned children living in a tent in Lebanon. She could tell you what it is like to share the responsibility for feeding your family at the age of 11, because your mother died in an air strike and your father is missing.

I think of Dr Ayman, a doctor from Aleppo, who watched his wife and three year-old daughter drown in the Mediterranean when a smugglers’ boat collapsed packed with hundreds of people. He could tell you what it is like to try to keep your loved ones safe in a warzone, only to lose them in a desperate bid for safety after all other options have failed.

These are some of nearly four million Syrian refugees who are victims of a conflict they have no part in. Yet they are stigmatized, unwanted, and regarded as a burden.

On my last visit in February, anger had subsided into resignation, misery and the bitter question “why are we, the Syrian people, not worth saving?”

[Read full speech]

137 million people’s lives are at risk from flooding

“In the next 30 years, it is projected that heavy rainfall events will be increasing … in Asia, by about 20% for sure,” climate scientist Dewi Kirono at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) told CNN.

Southern Asia is already the wettest area on the continent and one of the wettest regions in the world, receiving an average of at least 1000mm of rainfall a year.

As the rains fall harder, more than 137 million people in India, Bangladesh and China will be put at risk of coastal or inland flooding, more people than in the rest of the Asia-Pacific combined, a study in 2012 found. The majority of flood-related deaths and injuries worldwide since 1950 have been in three countries. According to statistics from Belgium’s Universite Catholique de Louvain’s Emergency Events Database, since 1950, more than 2.2 million people in these countries have been killed by flooding.

The problem centers around three of the great Himalayan rivers of South and East Asia: The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Yangtze. About 500 million people, or 50% of the population in India and Bangladesh, and about 300 million people, or about 25% of the population of China, live within the flood basins of these three rivers. Taken together, the three waterways support an estimated 14% of the world’s total population. When the heavy rains higher up in the flood plains flow into these rivers, water levels rise dramatically — and floodwaters pour into the surrounding cities and towns.

Still, these factors have been here for years. Why is the danger growing now?

“A lot of the urbanization … has happened in a largely unplanned matter.” Abhas Jha, the World Bank sector manager for Transport, Urban and Disaster Risk Management for East Asia and the Pacific, said. As natural drainage, such as open green spaces and wetlands, are covered in cityscapes…, heavy rain has nowhere to go. And the rains are getting heavier.

[CNN]

Redesigning the architecture of US Foreign Aid

Donald Trump is hardly the first U.S. president to call for bureaucratic reorganization to improve government efficiency and effectiveness. But his demand for disproportionate cuts in international spending, his attacks on multilateral cooperation, and his aversion to “soft power” make it clear that his agenda is to sideline, not strengthen, U.S. foreign policy institutions.

Thus when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced his intention to conduct a “complete and comprehensive review” of aid effectiveness, development advocates jumped to preempt what they feared might be a bid to dismantle the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by putting together proposals for evidence-based, results-oriented reform.

The first of those proposals is now in: a discussion draft of a new foreign aid architecture released by the co-chairs of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN). The MFAN proposal would give the development agency control over the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), currently an independent agency, as well as the AIDS relief and refugee assistance programs now overseen by the State Department. The proposal would eliminate USAID’s regional bureaus and consolidate all development programs into five “centers” based on broad functional categories.

[Read full article]

Israeli aid for Syrians

Quietly, over the last year, hundreds of sick Syrian children and their chaperones have been whisked across enemy lines at dawn for treatment at clinics in Israel, slipping back home after dark. Truckloads of supplies have passed into Syrian villages through a gate in the sturdy security fence that Israel has constructed since Syria erupted into civil war, including stacks of flour, generators, half a million liters of fuel, construction materials, tons of shoes, baby formula, antibiotics and even a few vehicles and mules.

This week, the Israeli military revealed the scope of the humanitarian aid project, which it calls Operation Good Neighbor and which began in June 2016 along the Israeli-Syrian boundary on the Golan Heights. The aid project depends on an extraordinary level of cooperation between old foes on both sides of the decades-old armistice lines separating the Syrians and Israelis. Military officials say they coordinate directly with Syrian doctors and village leaders to gauge needs.

“The [humanitarian ] aid creates a positive awareness of Israel on the Syrian side,” said Col. Barak Hiram, the commanding officer of Israel’s 474 Golan Brigade, adding that it could lay the “first seeds” of some form of future agreement.

Most of the supplies are donated by Israeli and foreign nongovernmental organizations, while the Israeli government has footed the bill for medical treatment. According to the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, a New York-based network of organizations involved in the aid effort, Israel has also become an efficient, if unlikely, staging area for Syrian aid groups operating abroad that, facilitated by the Israeli military, are now shipping goods into Syria through Israeli ports.

Georgette Bennett, who founded the Multifaith Alliance in 2013, is a Hungarian-born former refugee and the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

[New York Times]

Molly Melching : “I never went in and told them to change. I just gave them the information”

Molly Melching, a warm American in her 60s is the founder and chief executive officer of Tostan, a Senegalese nonprofit. Melching, standing tall in a flowing dress called a boubou, recalls how she came to Senegal in 1974 as a 24-year-old graduate student from Illinois. She thought she’d stay for six months to study Francophone African literature. Now, 43 years later, she’s still in Senegal after unexpectedly growing an organization that focuses on literacy, health, hygiene, community governance, and more.

Tostan’s core is a broad nonformal education program offered to villagers in a number of African countries. The classes use local African languages, reflecting Tostan’s collaborative approach. At least when Melching started out, this was in contrast to the attitude that most other development projects had–“we’re going to go in and show people they need this and they need that,” she says.

By Tostan’s tally, since the organization’s founding in 1991 more than 200,000 individuals have participated in its Community Empowerment Program, benefiting 3 million people. Tostan is known globally for alleviating poverty, as well as for helping to reduce child marriage and female genital cutting in Senegal. Other countries where the organization has operated include Somalia, Guinea, Mali, and Mauritania.

After Melching finished her graduate studies, she stayed to work with street children in Dakar. She created a youth center and developed children’s books and radio programs in local African languages. Eventually that evolved into working with impoverished people in rural areas.

As poor villagers in Senegal learned about health, sanitation, and conflict resolution, among other things, vaccination rates, use of mosquito nets, and school enrollment rose. Incidence of diseases such as malaria and AIDS dropped. Families that hadn’t spoken to each other in years started making amends after learning about conflict resolution, Melching says.

“People need to understand why they should want to change their behavior. I don’t go in telling them what to do,” Melching says. “I never went in and told them to change. I just gave them the information.”

[Christian Science Monitor]

Aid credibility figures at stake

Some of the world’s richest European countries spend billions at home that they report as “aid”, exploiting a loophole that enables them to cut vital development budgets.

Under current accounting rules, the costs of receiving refugees can count towards a donor country’s total overseas development assistance (ODA).

In 2016, leading donor countries reported $15.4 billion of domestic spending on refugees as ODA, a huge rise from $3.9 billion in 2012 and several times more than they spend on refugees abroad.

That’s also more than they spent on emergency aid in foreign countries, and more than three times the income of the UN refugee agency.

[Read full article]

Wealth distribution inequality

While Americans and much of the world fixate on such things as Donald Trump’s latest tweets, the plague of inequality continues to grow.

An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest five deciles of the world population own about $410 billion in total wealth.

As of June 8, 2017, the world’s richest five* men owned over $400 billion in wealth. (* Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg.)

Thus, on average, each of these men own nearly as much as 750 million people.

International Rescue Committee: “Americans oblivious to overseas suffering”

The vast majority of Americans are “oblivious” to the fact that more than 20 million people are on the brink of starvation in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, according to a recent survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

A “staggering” 85 percent of Americans simply don’t know that these nations are facing such dire shortages of food and other necessary resources, IRC discovered.

Lack of awareness, however, does not imply deliberate lack of concern, IRC is quick to observe. Once Americans are briefed on the relevant facts, the organization notes, “the issue immediately rises to a top global concern.”

IRC goes on to note that “[n]ear-famine, which is affecting 20 million people in Africa and the Middle East, is likely the least reported but most important major issue of our time,” implying that the media is at fault for not keeping such a crucial issue at the center of public discussion.

The survey also found that most Americans favor providing more humanitarian aid, not less, as President Donald Trump has proposed: 68% of registered voters agree that foreign aid from wealthy nations like the U.S. is needed now more than ever.

“Millennials [78% concerned] see humanitarian aid as a defining issue for their generation, and the United States,” IRC‘s report notes. “On nearly every measure tested in the poll, millennials are more concerned than other generations, believe it is a moral obligation for the U.S. to provide assistance, and are most willing to engage.”

 [Common Dreams]

Line up of 1,000 musical artists to play refugee solidarity concerts

Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds are producing a global concert series Give a Home, taking place in cities all over the world on 20 September 2017.

After joining the lineup of artists performing, Ed Sheeran said, “We all deserve a home, not just the memory of one. That’s why I’m proud to join Amnesty International and Sofar’s Give a Home campaign in raising awareness for the global refugee crisis and funds for Amnesty’s important work.”

Sheeran will play a Give a Home gig in Washington D.C., USA.   Playing alongside him will be Jean-Jean Bashengezi (‘JAJA’) a guitarist, singer and refugee who now lives in Washington. Bashengezi’s music draws influence from his roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was forced to flee in 1994 when his country descended into deadly conflict following the Rwandan genocide.

With more than 22 million people now forced to flee their home country, the aim of the ambitious concert series is to unite people in showing solidarity with refugees. The funds raised by the project will support Amnesty International’s work in documenting human rights abuses and violations against refugees and pushing governments to find a sustainable solution to the refugee crisis.

Give a Home will see music fans around the world open up their homes to host intimate concerts in more than 60 countries worldwide.

[Amnesty International]

EU helps Peru respond to widespread flooding

Peru has recently experienced the worst floods in decades. The Andean country’s arid desert coast was inundated by torrential rains battering Peru between December and March, costing 107 lives and leaving more than 170, 000 people homeless so far.

Most rivers have overflowed along the 2500 kilometre Pacific coast, and 24 of the country’s 25 regions were severely affected.

“Peruvian rivers are currently estimated to be discharging their highest volume of water in more than 200 years,” said Boris Teunis, an EU Civil Protection expert in hydrology, quoting weather forecasts based on hydrological models developed by the European Commission’s Global Flood Awareness System. This severe disruption of usual weather patterns is caused by El Niño, the abnormal warming of Pacific Ocean waters which creates storms and subsequent flooding.

The EU has disbursed €1 million in emergency humanitarian aid, deployed civil protection experts and facilitated European donations in kind, including life-saving water pumps from Spain and France to assist those most affected in Peru’s northern provinces.

Thanks to an initial contribution of €250 000 from the European Commission, the EU humanitarian partner CARE was able to dispense emergency kits. In addition to handing out necessity items (such as buckets and water purification tablets), the EU’s humanitarian partners on the ground are supporting local authorities in assessing damages and risks to the population. Beyond the immediate needs of victims they fear the onset of a health crisis as stagnating waters create an ideal breeding ground for the vectors of zika, malaria, dengue and yellow fever.

[European Commission’s Directorate-General for … Humanitarian Aid Operations]

Former refugee: “Refugees will contribute to society”

In the 1980’s, faced with a swelling number of arrivals and growing reluctance from western governments to maintain resettlement opportunities, governments in Southeast Asia threatened pushbacks. In response, the multilateral Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) was signed in 1989, bringing together commitments made by countries of origin, asylum and resettlement.

Saigon-trained architect Thanh Dang was among 63 people who packed onto a boat to leave Viet Nam in June 1989. After a week at sea, the crowded vessel reached Indonesia, where Dang ended up in the Galang refugee camp. He was ‘screened in’ as a refugee and subsequently resettled to the United States, where he became an architectural designer working on schools and medical facilities in Atlanta, Georgia.

Looking back on the life that the program gave him, he makes an impassioned plea to the international community and ordinary citizens grappling with today’s multiple refugee crises.

“Put yourself in the refugee’s position. They are just normal people. I don’t think anybody wants to uproot their lives and face an uncertain future if they don’t have to,” he said.

“If you give them a chance to rebuild their lives, refugees will contribute to society where they live. Please don’t be afraid of them, and welcome them.”

[Read full UNHCR article]

The uncertain fate of Christians in Iraq

When Saddam Hussein was in charge, some 1.3 million Christians lived in Iraq. Today that figure is believed to be only 200,000.

Located some 35 kilometers southeast of Mosul along the Nineveh plains,  Qaraqosh was once considered the cradle of Christianity in Iraq, its history stretching back to biblical times. Before Islamic State invaded, Qaraqosh was home to Iraq’s largest Christian community.  40,000 people lived here until three years ago –no other city in the country was home to so many Christians. Now liberated after three years of occupation, little remains and former residents are considering whether it’s worth rebuilding in a country with an unclear future.

A local priest, Father Roni, has made it his task to resuscitate Qaraqosh. “We have to bury the dead so life can return,” he says. The bodies of 11 murdered people lie unburied at the cemetery. Some have been here so long that their faces are no longer recognizable.

Around half of the residents of Qaraqosh have left Iraq, with about 40 Christian families heading abroad each week to places like France, Jordan, Australia–anywhere but here, a region that doesn’t hold much of a future for them.

Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, they were at least halfway safe. As a Sunni Muslim, Hussein was himself part of a minority in the country and he formally incorporated the Christians into the state apparatus as part of his efforts to consolidate power. But their situation deteriorated after the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq. Despite the Americans’ claims of being liberators, the chaos they created further fomented the hatred many Iraqis had for Christians.

The province of Nineveh, where the Christians found refuge, is one of the most ethnically diverse in Iraq. In addition to Christians, it is also home to Yazidis, Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds. As such, it is considered a test case for how the divided country might coalesce once again after the fall of Islamic State. It would cost $10 million (€9 million) to rebuild Qaraqosh, but no one knows where the money might come from. And coexistence is little more than a vision.

 [Der Spiegel]

120,000 children return to Mosul with their families

Mosul’s years-long nightmare seemingly ended last week: On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed the full liberation the city.

On July 13, US presidential envoy Brett McGurk told a Coalition meeting in Washington that military experts consider the Mosul campaign “one of the most difficult military operations since World War II.” The danger to Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga during the nine-month offensive came not only from snipers and waves of suicide attackers, but also booby-traps, mostly mines laid throughout the city by fleeing Islamic State militants. Nina Seecharan, Iraq director for the British charity Mines Advisory Group, said in a statement on July 14 that the organization has not seen landmines used on this scale in 20 years.

Mosul’s liberation came at a high cost: 80 percent of the city, which traces its history back to 401 BC, lies in ruins.  Mosul’s returning residents now also have to contend with the hidden threat of landmines and other ad-hoc explosive devices Islamic State left for them.

Nevertheless, the agency said Moslawis are eager to leave camps set up for internally displaced people, and return to what is left of their homes. An UNICEF spokesperson said 223,925 people have already returned to Mosul.

“Even though the fighting has ended, the rebuilding of children’s lives has only just begun. They will need physical and psychological care, and the swift restoration of all basic services including education and safe drinking water,” UNICEF spokesperson Sharon Behn Nogueira said.

[Grasswire]

Can foreign aid projects help improve national security?

The overseas aid budget is coming under attack, both in the UK and the USA. But that shortsighted view does not take into account how working together to help communities suffering under the shadow of terrorism can actually help us combat extremism.

Poverty, poor health and global security concerns all come together in north-west Pakistan. The region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has hosted large numbers of internally displaced peoples for decades, largely refugees from Afghan conflicts. Many live in camps or work as laborers on brick kilns. It is in this challenging part of the world that an interesting example of partnership working between the UK and Pakistan is taking place that shows a way towards improving the well-being and economic prospects of the population. And we argue it may also, in a small way, assist in improving global security by enhancing local stability.

The initiative we worked on was a collaboration between a UK-based charity, The Abaseen Foundation and its partner NGO in Pakistan. This UK charity raises funds for health, education and development work in this region. An independent review of the project noted the “enormous impact” it had in providing access to previously absent health services for marginalized peoples and – importantly – thoroughly engaging the support of the community to create a sustainable legacy.

Despite the fact that projects such as this one demonstrate the value of well-managed aid in developing sustainable local resources, the very idea of overseas aid is vulnerable to political posturing that denies its value or discredits spending at times of austerity at home. Such calls can be even more shrill when the beneficiaries are in distant lands that are riven with conflict and appear to be at the forefront of exporting terrorism and anti-Western sentiments.

We believe that success stories like this offer a challenge to the rhetoric surrounding the future of overseas aid. A case can be made that spending on aid rather than war may be more productive for peace and security. The work of the charity may be some sort of antidote to alienation – promoting and capitalizing on shared affinities for a more internationalist and less insular outlook.

[The Conversation]

The best countries in the world to be an immigrant

A new ranking of the best countries to be an immigrant has placed Sweden in the top spot, closely followed by Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Germany. The United States, a country which was largely founded through mass immigration, came in seventh.

U.S. News and World Report, which compiled the ranking, said it looked at measures such as economic stability, income equality and job markets to create its list, using a special survey of the opinions of more than 21,000 business leaders and other elites, as well as members of the public.

Eric Gertler, co-chairman of U.S. News and the New York Daily News, said, “With the recent spotlight on immigration in the U.S. and abroad, we wanted to dive into its potential benefits and challenges on a country’s perceived economic status in the world.”

Specifically, immigration in Sweden became the subject of an unusual public debate in the U.S. this year, with President Trump suggesting at a rally in February that immigration had led to problems in Sweden and that the country should serve as a model for how the U.S. should not allow some immigrants in. “They took in large numbers and they are having problems like they never thought possible,” Trump said, sparking a flurry of angry responses from Swedes.

Sweden had become a popular destination for refugees from Africa and the Middle East over the past few years, taking in more per capita than any other European nation at the height of the migrant influx in 2015. Sweden wasn’t the only Nordic country to fare well–Norway, Finland and Denmark also took places in the top 10, largely due to favorable perceptions found in the survey about their economies and commitment to income equality. Other countries, such as Canada and Switzerland, were given positive marks not only for their economy but also integration measures for immigrants, such as language training.

[Washington Post]

Volunteers helping Syrian refuges in southern Turkey

This trip to the border was again a heart-wrenching trip.

Visiting several homes for amputees and victims of war left us stunned. This new center we visited is run by a single man, Abdulrahman, who with his own meager savings has pieced together two wooden dorms on a little plot of land for victims of the civil war. Thirty to forty people live in these little dorms, with separate parts for men and women.

Meeting the victims of the horrific bombing of Aleppo moved us all to tears. Seeing the blinding orange/white flashes of the bombs over Aleppo on your TV is one thing, but to meet the survivors of those flashes is something else. It adds a whole new dimension to the horrors of war, and will never leave you the same. We all were nearly speechless and incapable of even talking about this for days.

What do you say when you meet people so badly burnt, a mother with no legs, young men without arms or legs, how do you respond? Some of the worst cases cannot leave their rooms, or even their beds without great difficulty.

We delivered several truckloads of aid to families, and to a large orphanage. The orphanage has 24 rooms, and at times one room may house three mothers and their children.

The caretakers of the orphans told us that they were in desperate need of money for the rent before the 1st of the month or they would be thrown on the streets. One of our student volunteers gave his last 20 liras.The next day, I checked our mail and thankfully we can pay their rent for a few months. We can’t express how overjoyed we are, and they are, for your gifts, and helping us to adopt this family. We were elated, as it would be unimaginable to see these kids on the streets. They are in such difficulty, yet they recently received another mother and child, who had just crossed the border after fleeing Raqqa. Incredible!

The residents are eager for friendship, human warmth and radiate when you come visit them and treat them with dignity. They want you to stay, drink tea, and in their difficult situation, they will offer you a meal. How could we even think about complaining of our long hours in the heat when you meet those who have lost all?