Tanks instead of family cars, bomb blasts instead of sunshine, rubble instead of houses, wastelands instead of meadows, exile instead of homeland – many children in Syria and Iraq have known little else but war.

Children love to paint the sun. Psychologists claim it represents a father’s authority and love. But their fathers are either dead or fighting in the war. The sun is just an expression of longing; the everyday reality is the shadow of death.

In Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Latakia and everywhere else they are praying for the rumble of the tanks and the thunder of the guns to fall silent, for peace to come, so that they can go to school without fear.

They still have hope though – a hope reinforced by you, their brothers and sisters,  generous Aid to the Church in Need benefactors who are helping them via their priests, religious sisters and bishops and showing the children that they and their families are not forgotten.

Responding to an initiative of ACN, over a million children from 2,000 schools in Syria have painted pictures as a message of peace to the world. Some of the bishops have acted as spokesmen for the children and brought their appeals for peace to Europe, conveying them personally to senior political figures in
the EU.

Their messages reflect high expectations. The politicians of Europe will not be able to fulfil them. Peace is the work of justice, as we already read in the prophet Isaiah (cf 32:17), who also describes for us the effects of this justice, namely ‘quietness and trust for ever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.’

Sadly we cannot fulfil their expectations either, but we can at least bring them some consolation, helping by our gifts to bring a little sunshine back into their lives and keeping their hope alive. And we can pray with them in spirit.

This article can be found in Mirror 0117.