The association and foundation of Les Petits Frères des Pauvres have always been mobilized to help the elderly during natural disasters or war. In recent years, Petits Frères des pauvres have supported organizations such as the Starenki Foundation in Ukraine for a year, and an association during the earthquake in Nepal. It is therefore natural that the international team was called upon following the earthquakes that took place in Syria and Turkey.
A disastrous situation
On February 6, fourteen years after the Izmit earthquake that hit the region, a new earthquake of magnitude 7.8 devastated Turkey and northern Syria. According to a report obtained by AFP, more than 50,000 people died. The death toll has been revised upwards on the Syrian side, where 5,951 people died in the February 6 disaster.
For years, Syrians have lived in fear, deprivation, and destitution. Before the earthquake, nearly 90% of Syrians were already living below the poverty line. Fate seems to be working against these people, who have been torn apart by nearly 12 years of conflict that has left nearly 500,000 people dead and millions displaced. As a result of the earthquake, more than 300,000 people have been displaced in Aleppo alone. Among them were many elderly people who had made the choice not to leave their country, despite the war that has been raging since 2011.
The Blue Marist Brothers of Aleppo
The Blue Marist Brothers of Aleppo are a community of Marist Brothers composed of three brothers and many lay people. Despite the fear and extremely difficult context, they continue to support the most destitute, led by Brother Georges Sabé. Since 1986, they have been helping the neediest under the name of an association called “L’Oreille de Dieu” (God’s Ear). The association is composed of a management team, including a Marist Brother, two lay people, Nabil and Leyla Antaki, and 150 volunteers and employees. Together, they provide support to Syrians in the areas of housing, education, health, and work.
An urgent need for support
In the aftermath of the earthquake, the team continues its work and tries to cope with all the requests that have increased significantly.
The association has welcomed hundreds of people forced to leave their homes. The Marist Brothers are trying, as much as possible, to offer dignified living conditions to the people they welcome. This is done through the donation of mattresses and blankets, 3 meals a day, clothing, care for the sick, and hygiene products. Beyond the material help, a psychological support is brought to face the trauma suffered. Today, the association takes in about 800 vulnerable people, including 250 over 50, who need support. Some are alone, others have children who also need to be fed.
To help the Syrian people, the Petits Frères des Pauvres have decided to support the Marist Brothers financially. After a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, the association Petits des Pauvres has released funds that will be used to distribute daily meals to 250 elderly people!
Here is a short article published by Courrier Internationale in 2021 to realize the disastrous living conditions of Syrian seniors:
En Syrie, le grand âge désespéré et ignoré (courrierinternational.com)