Syria: the hope that builds. Witness by Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh

Giacomo Pizzi24 June 2020

A new online meeting was held on Thursday 18 June “Syria: the hope that builds”, together with Father Ibrahim Alsabagh from Aleppo, an exceptional guest spoke: His Eminency Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. The Cardinal, who we can certainly define as a great friend of Syria, with his presence, wanted to emphasize once again his closeness to the Syrian people. His Eminence, President of the European bishop conferences, last September was in Syria with us to meet the people of Aleppo. He addressed them with these words: “You are the proof that God is love, because God does not destroy, but builds”.

Cardinal Bagnasco wanted to make his solidarity feel alive in a moment of great crisis: “I renew my gratitude and admiration for the Syrian people”. Returning to the experience of the trip to Aleppo, he remembers: “I met people with great dignity who, in the middle of great difficulties, suffering, rubble, very real fears, socio-political and cultural uncertainties, did not cry over themselves, but reacted”. A strength of spirit and a strong union among families that the Cardinal continues to witness, for example, by bringing “tenacious hope for the future of the Syrian people” to his parish community in Genoa and during his countless pastoral meetings.

The hope to build is what Pro Terra Sancta wants to continue to keep alive by supporting the Syrian people in one of the most dramatic moments since the beginning of the war. After nine years of war, 2020 is putting Syria to the test, and in addition to the Covid-19 crisis, economic sanctions by the United States and the European Union are leading the country into economic collapse.

From the words of Father Ibrahim all the concern for the moment emerges. “The situation is falling low, there are many problems that continue to get bigger: the problem of the virus is not solved. People have lost their jobs, the economy is flat. We had to move on to phase two so as not to starve to death, but the infections are continuing. There is so much fear and confusion”.

The stop for the virus added to the sanctions led to an impressive collapse of the Syrian lira: “My salary is not enough to buy 3 kg of meat!” said a family man – continues Abuna Ibrahim – there is no money for meat; cheese and eggs are becoming luxury goods”. Even the health situation is out of control: “We have 250 people that we support for the payment of medicines, but with the blockade, the pharmacies are closed and we are without medicines”.

“People are scared because they don’t know where the country is going. Uncertainty is worse than hunger itself” – continues the story the friar of Aleppo – “Our service is precious and necessary, we cannot escape helping these people economically and psychologically”.

“We are witnessing the loss of hope, which is also a spiritual problem”. The friars are called once again to respond: “We are committed to transmit the daily Mass on Facebook, to bring the Word of God into the houses. This encourages and heals wounds”. Thanks to technology, the Franciscans are trying to maintain daily contact with the parishioners, sending readings and prayers so as not to let despair take over: “This virus has taken something out of our church life, but we are trying to push people to live participation even from afar”.

To support the Syrian people Pro Terra Sancta has launched a new appeal to raise funds. The collection will go to a special project dedicated to the children of Aleppo, those who most need psychological help and new hopes.