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They've faced Islamic State, war and displacement - but these women aren't giving up hope for Syria

29 October 2018

Meet Shiveen, Mahera, Ibtihaj, Hala and Fatan. Before the war in Syria, these women were business owners. Hala ran a sewing factory for 25 years. Ibtihaj had a tiling factory. Shiveen had a computer outlet.

With the outbreak of war, they all had to flee their homes to escape the violence, leaving behind everything they had worked so hard for. Some of them have lived through incredible trauma; one was forced out of her home by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, and was made to live in a tunnel under a mountain by the militants. Another has seen her son develop a chronic illness due to the stress and trauma of the war. It’s no wonder some of them have tears in their eyes as they share their stories.

But these are highly skilled and capable women - and they haven’t given up hope, for themselves, their families or their country. Fatan says, “With the help of God, Syria will be all right again.”

Meet Shiveen, Mahera, Ibtihaj, Hala and Fatan from Syria.

Hala (pictured below) says, “I had a sewing factory for about 25 years, it was somewhere between Homs and Damascus. It stopped operating because of the war, and I ended up living here in Homs. My house was damaged so I moved in with my sister.”

The local church in Homs has helped Hala to set up a new sewing workshop, thanks to your prayers and support. She’s passing on her years of experience and training the other women, giving them new skills, the dignity of work and the ability to provide for their families. And there is potential for this project to grow, and provide this support for even more women.

It costs £238 to provide training to help one person open a small business in Syria. You can contribute towards this work.

Hala holds up a pair of trousers.

Fatan says, “It is so good. You didn’t give us just a salary for one month, you’ve invested in something for our entire life. This helps us and our children a lot.”

Projects like this are vital in helping create jobs that pay enough to support a family. The cost of basic necessities such as food and fuel are ten times higher than they were at the start of the war, meaning that even those who have been able to find work often don’t earn enough to cover the needs of their families.

Shiveen (pictured below) is an example of this. She says, “After we fled to Homs I found some temporary work in a grocery shop. That was not good because I earned too little money. It wasn’t enough to buy what my family needed. I had to pay rent, and the food aid had stopped.”

Hala holds up a pair of trousers.

At the sewing workshop she gets an income that covers her needs. “I am excited about this job. We’re making something, and getting an income. It is so good that we are producing here, that we can sell the products.”

Shiveen wants to say thank you to everyone who has made this project possible. “This factory is a wonderful step for our future. We thank you so much for your help. I want to thank everyone who has contributed even just a penny to the benefit of the people who are in need. I want to thank everybody who has given. The projects are strengthening the people, and providing us with a new start.”

Continue to Stand with your church family in Syria

Your support and prayers are providing 12,000 families in Syria with vital aid such as food and medicines every month. Many of these families do have someone earning an income, but it simply isn’t enough to cover their basic needs as the costs of living have soared. Elderly people and families supporting sick or disabled people are often dependent on the support they receive from our local church partners to simply survive.

As well as emergency aid, our local partners are providing long-term support, such as trauma care, and loans and training so that people can start small businesses like Hala's sewing workshop.

None of this work would be possible without your support and prayers. You can’t help every family in Syria – but you could put food into the hands of one family, and help them to survive until the crisis is over. Even a small gift could make a huge difference. Every £26 could provide a monthly emergency relief pack for a family in Syria. This could include food, clothing, medicines, shelter and heating during the freezing winter.

And please continue to pray. Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, says, “Our prayers can go where we cannot... There are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray.” You can't be with your Syrian brothers and sisters in person, but you can stand with them in prayer. Please pray:

  • That God will continue to provide for Shiveen, Mahera, Ibtihaj, Hala and Fatan, and that they will continue to hope in Him
  • That God will bless Hala's sewing workshop, and that the work will grow so that more people can find work there
  • For wisdom for Open Doors local church partners as they consider supporting other initiatives to create jobs and provide families with an income
  • For provision for families who are in the greatest need, especially the elderly and those who are unwell or disabled
  • For an end to the conflict in Syria, and that the leaders involved will genuinely work towards peace and reconciliation.

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