I think it is important that we contribute to the goals and vision of my uncle Frans. For this reason I contacted the Jesuits, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and ZOA. They are both active in Syria to provide emergency aid and to ensure the reconstruction of the country. In this way they can offer a future to many young people and families. These parties do this individually, but coincidentally also together with each other and with that the last puzzle pieces fell into place for me.
Why do we support people in Syria?
As a result of the conflict in Syria, a large number of residents have run into problems. More than eleven million people need help, of which 5 million are acute. One third of the total population has left Syria and has gone in search of safety elsewhere. The people who could not (or did not want to) leave Syria need our help. I want us, just like my uncle, Frans van der Lugt (1938-2014), to stand next to them and determine together with them how we can best help. It is these people who have to rebuild the country. Because we cannot help everyone with our support, I have selected three projects. Projects in the cities of Homs, Damascus and Al-Qusayr, because they can use our help well in my eyes and fit in with my uncle's vision.
"My name is Father Frans. I speak to you from the old and besieged city of Homs. One of the biggest problems is hunger. There is nothing to eat. Nothing is worse than seeing people on the street looking for something to eat for their children. "– Frans van der Lugt
What was the situation like in the country before there was war?
Before the conflict, Syria was a middle-income country. It had a good infrastructure and good training courses were available for the children and adults. Furthermore, the basic facilities such as water and health care were of a good standard.
What has changed over time?
A large number of people have fled Syria since the conflict. Major cities such as Homs and Damascus have been largely destroyed. In Syria, an estimated 6.5 million people have lost their homes and 85% of the population lives below the poverty line. If you already have a job, wages have not risen, but the prices of basic foods have. Basic facilities such as health care and education have been hit hard. For example, half of hospitals have been damaged or destroyed in some way.
What do the people of Syria need?
Large donors mainly focus on emergency aid. The people in Syria are grateful for this, but mainly ask for help that is aimed at the longer term. They would like more income, safe houses to live in and access to basic services.
Which of these projects do we support with this walking tour?
To support the desire of the population, we help with the proceeds of Walk for Homs to rebuild schools for young people with and without disabilities. After all, education is the basis of a healthy future. In addition, the youngsters receive everything they need for this, such as healthy food, clean drinking water, resources to get through the harsh winters and psychological support. I also hope that we can contribute to the reconstruction of the project Al Ard (‘The Estate’) in Al-Qusayr. The road to reconstruction is long, but we will not abandon people in Syria.
The projects that we want to support in any case with Walk for Homs:
- Frans van der Lugt Center, Homs
- Al Ard, Al-Qusayr
- Education for all, rural Damascus
What are the main issues that the Jesuits, JRS and ZOA are dealing with in Syria?
- They provide access to primary education for vulnerable children to provide a future with hope and opportunities.
- They ensure the integration of educational, psychosocial and livelihood programs so that students can take advantage of their opportunities after completing the degree.
- They help people to connect with each other regardless of ethnic background and religion to work together on a new future.
- They provide families and carers with all the means to take care of their children.
- They provide mental health and psychosocial support to people, families and communities to build new lives together.
What do the Jesuits, JRS and ZOA need to be able to realize these projects?
The answer is simple, money. Money to ensure that these projects can be realized.
- Frans van der Lugt Center needs a total of € 120,000.
- Al Ard needs a total of € 30,000.
- Education for all needs a total of € 100,000.
How are the revenues distributed among the Jesuits, JRS and ZOA?
The revenues are distributed evenly among the projects. Of course we hope that we can fully support all projects, but to be able to contribute is already fantastic. When the projects are completed, we will of course notify everyone involved in Walk for Homs.
If more money is raised, we will work with the Jesuits, JRS, ZOA and the people in Syria to see which projects we can support even more. We will of course inform everyone involved about this.