Ten-year-old Jeries Habib and his brother, Elia, eight, from Maloula, the hilltop Christian town in Syria, have good reason to smile as a fresh programme of ACN aid gets underway across the country.

 Thanks to you, ACN has just approved 40 new projects. The aid – including food, shelter, medicine, repair of churches and support for clergy and catechesis – provide 40 new reasons for hope in a country, which has suffered so much for so long. In response to a desperate plea for help as people start to return to Aleppo, ACN is helping to repair the Maronite Cathedral in a part of the city where Christians had been targeted by extremists.

The nave was badly damaged when a bomb fell through the roof. Nearly 500 Christian families have returned to the town of Qusayr, devastated by fighting.

ACN has offered to repair 100 homes there and, with your help, we can repair many more.

More aid will provide food, toiletries, medicine, clothes and shoes for poverty-stricken elderly and disabled Christians in Aleppo supported by Sr Annie Demerjian and her nine volunteers.

At Sr Annie’s request, an electric wheelchair has been provided for a house-bound elderly woman.

Sr Annie said: “Seven years have passed since the war began and people continue to face all kinds of troubles – tiredness and suffering – but because of your help we are able to stand beside our people and make their burden lighter.”

Ray of light: ACN’s fresh aid for Syria

  • Aleppo Food baskets for 3,280 Families
  • Homs, Hama and Yabroud – Mass stipends for priests
    • Aleppo – Repair of Maronite cathedral hit by a bomb
    • Damascus – Supporting the education of 1,270 students
    • Aleppo – Aid for families supported by Sr Annie Demerjian
    • Qusayr – Repair of 100 homes
    • Yabroud – Medicine for elderly, disabled and children

    ACN’s new aid programme for Syria aims to help Christians stay in a country where the Faith dates back to St Paul and Christ’s disciples.

    A quarter of the 40 projects just approved by ACN provide help for young people such as 2,000 catechisms in Latakia, a retreat for 70 young faithful in Aleppo, and support for university students in Aleppo and Homs.

    ACN is supporting 1,270 students at the Al Riaya School, in Damascus, run by the St Jean Antide Sisters.

    The students had to move to a new site after their premises came under threat, close to the front-line in the conflict. Several students died at the height of the violence involving the neighbouring Eastern Ghouta district but the situation calmed afterwards and students are determined to continue their studies.

    ACN Middle East projects coordinator Father Andrzej Halemba said: “Youth have lived for years in an environment of war and tension is very high. We need to help them now.”