‘You can’t imagine in what kind of circumstances the family was living. It was damp and cold in that cellar. It was like a catacomb. You could hardly breathe… It was horrible when I saw it. They lived like that for three years.’

Sr. Annie Demerjian of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary who is looking after families in Aleppo, northern Syria described the living conditions of one family.

‘The father owned a flower shop. However, he had to close it. Bit by bit they had to sell everything they owned: furniture, electrical devices, clothing – they gave everything away for a little food. At some point they moved into the cellar. The rent for their former flat was too expensive. There was no electricity in the cellar. Both children, a son and a daughter, had to give up their studies because they didn’t have any more money.’

The father sought Sr. Annie’s assistance last year. ‘We immediately decided to help the family. They now have electricity, perhaps not all the time, but still… The girl has told us that we have given them new hope to live.’

But Sr Annie told ACN that their story is by no means unusual. ‘It doesn’t matter which house you go into, each has a sad story to tell. We are really surrounded by evil.’

Faith gives her hope in the midst of the suffering: ‘I don’t ask God about the why. I only ask Him to give me the strength I need for the day. This removes the burden from my shoulders. And I have realised one thing: the Lord acts subtly, but He acts. We see this every day. This is the only reason we can go on.’

And with the scale of the need, the help of God is necessary. Sr. Annie told us: ‘At the moment we are helping about 600 families with clothing, food, gas or anything else they need to survive. We are only able to do this thanks to the support of Aid to the Church in Need.’

ACN has helped Sr Annie with substantial assistance to provide the basic essentials for these war scarred people in Aleppo and nearby Hassake. ‘I can’t express how thankful we are to those who have made donations…The people need spiritual food, but also the kind you can bite into.’

This article can be found in Mirror 0715.