‘Why’? Is the one question that is uppermost in one’s heart and mind? Why the violence and war? The death and destruction that has ravaged Syria for more than six years now? A conflict which has left millions displaced, desperately seeking security in safer parts of the country or fleeing as refugees to neighbouring countries after braving many odds. Why? Why? Why? Why is Syria in the doldrums today? Why have millions of children become a lost generation? Why is the economy in a shambles? And numerous without a livelihood? There are no easy, black-and-white answers. Most are aware that there are powerful vested interests who would like the conflict to continue. The tragedy however, is that the ordinary Syrian citizen is the one who continues to suffer. But as one journeys in the midst of devastation, one cannot but pinpoint some other dimensions:
There are numerous stories of hope in Syria. Ordinary people who want to live in peace and harmony; who want the war and violence to stop immediately. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Syria is one such organisation that enkindles hope in the lives of thousands who are affected.JRS does phenomenal work especially in education, child protection, livelihood training, medical support and being in the midst of the most affected. The field kitchen in Aleppo provides nutritional food to thousands of the most needy. The JRS team reaches out to those affected at great risk. The Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s Sisters) care for the destitute: those who have nowhere to go. Beacons of hope everywhere!
To ‘rebuild’ is like a catch word in Syria today- and urgently needed. As one leaves the country towards Lebanon, the billboards along the way speak about the need to rebuild Syria and of a forthcoming Exhibition to be held in September (www.re-buildsyria.com) the regularization of commercial activity is perhaps an important step in helping restore Syria’s multi-cultural and pluralistic society.
So as the world still pursues the elusive answer to the tragedy of Syria today and the lack of political will to ensure peace and stability in the region, one can certainly take consolation from the fact that there is a wealth of values that still thrive in the hearts and lives of the people.
-Fr Cedric Prakash sj