By Murcadha O Flaherty and John Newton

VITAL help for Syrian mothers and children forced to flee violent extremism is one of nearly 100 new projects announced this month by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). 

The ACN projects include help for vulnerable refugee women being looked after by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Lebanon at their residential centre in Sehaile, Keserwan. The Sisters provide education and training classes as well as counselling to traumatised women who have experienced the violence of war and loss of family members. Sr Marie Aki, project manager at the Sehaile centre said their “objective is to generate projects that will empower, retrieve the dignity, support self-sufficiency, and build esteem in marginalised women, children and their families”.

Young mother Rima is training to become a catechist at the Good Shepherd Sister’s centre in Deir Al Ahmar, Baalbeck, Lebanon. She currently helps with children’s education and social activities. Rima said: “I was so happy that someone was helping me with the children's homework, and now I am happy that I too can help.”

In Syria, the charity is helping 700 Christian families with their electricity costs from January to June of this year at a cost of more than $42,000. This project responds to Sr Annie Demerjian’s appeal last October to ACN’s benefactors to help the people in Aleppo who, unable to afford electricity, were facing a “winter without heating”.

In other parts of the world, including Pakistan, Sudan and Eritrea, ACN is supporting a number of projects for Sisters and lay women including education, vocational training and catechesis.

ACN’s help also includes pastoral support for the construction of a two-storey community hall-chapel in at De Mazenod Parish in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Up to 3,500 faithful attend Mass there every Sunday, despite fears of a rising number of extremist attacks against Christians. The parish centre will be used for counselling, offering employment and legal advice as well as lay pastoral projects. The hall’s facilities will also be available for local Muslim youngsters.

The charity also announced that it will be providing transport for 350 catechumens from three different parishes in Iraq’s capital Bagdad.

The charity continues to provide support for Sudan in the latest aid payments, including for the boy’s and girl’s Schools in Mayo, near the country’s capital city Khartoum.

Also part of this month’s aid payments are pastoral projects in Eritrea which cannot be disclosed for security reasons.

Editor’s Notes

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 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.

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: info@aidtochurch.org or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills BC NSW 2153.

On Line donations can be made at www.aidtochurch.org

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