Human Appeal Ireland, Hatay, Turkey-Syria Border: Day 1

by Hajar Al-Kaddo

Day 1

It is 5:30am and I am sitting on a plane returning to Ireland after what has been months of hectic work.  After many enlightening experiences on a humanitarian trip with a dynamic team, only now have I truly had the chance to contemplate the impact our most recent work has had.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Hatay, a province in southern Turkey bordered by Syria in the South and East, one of many areas struggling with the arrival of thousands upon thousands of refugees needing humanitarian assistance.  On a 5 day trip, originally meant to be 3 days long, an international team of Human Appeal staff convened from different corners of the globe. Volunteers and Partners united to experience a foggy whirlwind adventure, a trip resulting in new friendships of genuine understanding and commitment to improving the lives of others less fortunate than ourselves.

Human Appeal France, Ireland, UK, Spain, UAE and Turkey made up the eclectic team, all dedicated to the same humanitarian principles.  Our UK Partners Al-Imdaad who have worked with Human Appeal UK since the very beginning of the crisis were also present, adding their efficiency and knowledgeable aid workers to the line-up.  The diverse group remained a cohesive unit as we all maintained the same aim.  This was a moment of real importance, which demonstrated the true message of Human Appeal, realising the vision of coming together, striving to create a just, caring world one free of poverty.

Our first morning was an exciting start to our work, we engaged on the ground in relief support and displayed to the world the work of Human Appeal.  Part of this was visiting an orphans centre but also a rehabilitation centre.  For me personally, this felt like I was on top of the world, that thankfully, all of the hard work sitting behind my laptop, or running around to make an event seem worthwhile, every moment was for something greater than each one of us. It was  greater than the hard times, because we were truly working to bring good to these children, these widows, these barefooted men looking for any way to feed their families.  As part of our work here we alleviated hunger by preparing food parcels, including staple foods which last for long periods of time and crucially, are energy-rich foods.  Items such as sugar, rice, pasta, lentils, chickpeas, tuna and oil which ensured that the food parcels were as resourceful as possible.

The Orphan’s centre consisted of 6 orphanages spanning 10 classrooms.  Catering for 400 children where all the 40 teachers were volunteers.  Due diligence and accountability meant that our needs assessment that the centre needed to be sustainable in the long term. Sourcing heaters, tables, chairs and learning equipment such as books were necessary.

Not only has any sense of normality in Syria been quashed, not being able to go to school also means that children’s opportunities for the future are being extinguished.  With millions of Syrian children out of school as a direct result of the war, we are working to prevent a ‘lost generation’ of children who no longer can access education. Supporting the school ensured Human Appeal continued their ethos of promoting social justice and equality for all.