Children often wish for good things for those around them. If the children of the Christian families in Damascus express their wishes for Christmas, they would probably include medicine for grandma and grandpa, for mum and dad, for their sick brother or suffering sister. Medicines are in short supply in Syria. In fact, there is a lack of everything, but without medication, many people lack the power to breathe, the strength to eat and the hope to live. The health system is utterly broken: over half of all state hospitals are either destroyed or non-operational. 11.5 million people, 5 million of them children, have no access to hospitals or outpatient treatment. 1.5 million of them are in Damascus alone and 2.2 million in Aleppo. Over half the medical staff – doctors, nurses, carers – have fled the country. Trauma patients cannot get treatment, while 300,000 pregnant women have no antenatal care or support. Infant mortality has soared by 9% since the beginning of the war, while life expectancy has fallen by six years on average. Then there is the lurking danger of the coronavirus pandemic, and for poorer families, the exorbitant prices of rent, food and, above all, medication are completely out of their reach. Four of every five Syrians now live below the official UN poverty threshold.
Angel of compassion: Sister Joseph-Marie.
And so people are turning to the Churches and religious communities. Sister Joseph-Marie Chanaa of the Sisters of Mercy of Besançon is caring for 300 Christian families and 200 sick people in Damascus. She has asked for help to buy essential medicines. There has been a dramatic rise in the number of cancer cases among the middle-aged and for these people, in particular, there is very little help. Nobody knows what the future holds for Syria, what Christmas will be like, who will survive into the New Year. Medicine offers a small window of hope, like the gifts of the shepherds in Bethlehem and those of the three Wise Men from the East. They can ease present suffering, grant a little breathing space – for prayer, for hope, and for spending time with their children.
Cancer has no regard for age. Drugs can buy a little time.
We have promised Sister Joseph-Marie AUD$118,000 for the medication she needs for the next six months. Can you give AUD$700, to ease the sufferings of her patients in Damascus for just one day? With these medicines, we are also offering a sign of love and solidarity. It would be for the sick, as well as for us, a day like the one the angels announced to the shepherds: a day of joy and peace to men of goodwill (cf. Lk 2:14).
To provide medication for our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East select from the drop-down options below.