Ubuntu in conflict-torn Syria

2013-04-25 12:13
(Picture supplied by Gift of the Givers)

(Picture supplied by Gift of the Givers)

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Idlib - In Honour of those innocents who have been killed violently or otherwise, who have directly been targeted by snipers, who have suffered the effects of cluster bombs, chemical weapons, artillery and rockets aimed wholly at civilian populations; in honour of the maimed, imprisoned and tortured; in honour of the hungry, cold, displaced and homeless, and in honour of a nation which the world chose to forget, Gift of the Givers announces Syria Day - a fund raising event throughout South Africa to garner support for an oppressed majority that has endured two years of the most unimaginable hardship.

They are victims of a violent ruling elite who have lost all sensibility, rationality, humaneness and mercy attacking their own civilians in the mast gruesome and draconian manner deliberately targeting schools, health facilities, religious institutions, bakeries and bread queues, with summary executions even of children, burning of bodies and beheading of civilians in full view of terrified unarmed populations.

The Syrian oppressed population are in overwhelming need of our support, compassion, prayer and financial assistance. The facts speak for themselves; 100 000 killed, 200 000 missing, 300 000 imprisoned and five million displaced.

Living proof of the anguish is Atma Refugee Camp on the Turkish-Syrian border where inadequate shelter necessitates sleeping in the open air, exposed to biting cold and pelting rain, a mother waiting a month or more to acquire a tent for her and her children, another month or two to receive the first blanket.

The Gift of the Givers Hospital in North Idlib, together with the clinic and satellite centres set up has treated in excess of 7 000 patients. The evidence of an entire population suffering severe psychological and emotional trauma manifest through the large number of psycho-somatic conditions encountered in these patients who just want someone to lend a listening ear, to touch, to embrace and to reassure. Then there were the bomb casualties, the fatalities and those who were victims of the most gruesome torture.

The assistance we provide as South Africans is a symbol of hope, a boost to their morale and a rekindling of their faith in humanity. This is a region which never had a hospital before, it is the very building that Assad's army occupied during the uprising for freedom and looted from it all its assets. It is now a symbol of healing, of health, of life with the birth of several babies including many sets of twins. It now obviates the necessity to take the injured, the severely wounded and the very ill to Turkey as many die in transit at the border. The Gift of the Givers Hospital is now their hospital, their saviour, giving life and love and bearing the symbol of African UBUNTU. We have shared our Ubuntu with people almost 12000 km away through this hospital which Assad's forces have tried on several occasions to bomb but for the Grace of the Almighty its strategic location protects it by mountains.

We've made our mark as a caring African nation but we need to intervene further. The hospital needs a second floor, an opthalmology unit and other specialised equipment to save eyes, prevent blindness in adults and children, treat cancers and a host of other conditions. The needs are overwhelming but our ubuntu is greater and more enduring. They take turns to eat once in every 3-4 days, drinking boiled grass water at other times and yet they smile. Our humanity could never allow us to look the other way in spite of our own financial circumstances. The innocents of Syria need us and Syria Day is our response to that "heart-rendering" crisis. But, strangely they DON'T ask for any assistance, they only smile, a symbol both of their quiet dignity and a masked deep seated internal pain that may never resolve in this lifetime.

If you want to participate in the Syria Day campaign visit www.giftofthegivers.org for all the latest information. All deposits can be made to Gift of the Givers, Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, A/C 052278611, Branch code 057525.

-    Imtiaz Sooliman is the founder and chairperson of Gift of the Givers. The charity organisation is currently in Syria on a humanitarian mission along with a team of doctors.

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Read more on:    bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings

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