The civil war in Syria is one of the worst catastrophes of modern times. Some 350,000 people have been killed, while 5 million have fled abroad and another 6 million have been left homeless as internal refugees in their own country.

In the first few months of this year alone, 1,159 children died during the bombings. Death came suddenly and violently to many families as the bombs fell. And each time a little bit of future was buried with them. But there is also another, slower death, when families cannot escape but lack the barest necessities. Then children and babies die of malnutrition. This is where the ACN-sponsored initiative ‘A drop of milk’ comes in.

It began in Aleppo, where 80% of the population had already fled and where most of those who were left survived only thanks to the food parcels from various aid agencies. These parcels came in all shapes and sizes, but most contained no milk for children.

So the aim of this project is to provide a regular supply of milk for children under 10, and not just in Aleppo. Around 2,600 children between one and 10 are getting milk powder and 150 babies under a year receive special formula milk.

But it is not only about vitamins and calories; every drop of milk is a drop of mercy, which not only nourishes the child but also the mother’s heart. It nourishes hope, hope that their children will, after all, have a future in their own homeland.

This regular milk distribution is made without regard to religion, with so many different Christian denominations and other faiths here in Syria. So the programme also has an ecumenical dimension – ‘it unites us Christians, writes Dr. Nabil Antaki of the so-called ‘Blue Marists’ – a group of religious brothers and lay volunteers working with the refugees. But every drop costs money, as do the procurement, storage and distribution of the milk. We need around €16,800 each month.

In summer the helpers have to cope with searing heat, and in winter with biting cold. Right now an icy wind is cutting through the bombed-out buildings. Oil and petrol are scarce, the electricity supply is only intermittent, and expensive too.

The cold means sickness, and sickness means medicines. It is better to find the money for the heating, which means that people can work, repair what they have, forge a future.

In recent years we have helped many refugees survive the winter. But blankets alone are not enough. The generators have to be kept going, at least a few hours a day.

With your material help and your prayers let us continue to demonstarte to the world that the quality of Christ’s Mercy is not strained and His Grace is ever bountyful.

This article can be found in Mirror 0817.