You have heard the Good News!
You and I have heard the Good News throughout our lives. It is truly the greatest story ever told.
Every Christmas, we retell how Mary and Joseph traveled, how there was no room for them in the inn, and how their baby was born in a stable.
Did you ever consider that this family’s plight is the world’s most famous account of homelessness?
The Homeless in Syria
In Syria, too many families will know homelessness this Christmas. They have experienced it every day since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on February 6. Many still sleep in shelters, and others sleep in makeshift tents or refugee camps.
Father Louai Bsharat, OFM remembers that terrifying morning. The earthquake threw him out of bed. It destroyed much of the village where he serves and took the lives of many of his friends and parishioners. He claims it is a miracle he is alive. In the village of Yacoubieh where he lived, the friary and church partially collapsed. He barely had time to escape.
Immediately after the earthquake, our missionary friars welcomed over 6,000 people in shelters. Everyone was given emergency supplies of food, water, clothing, and blankets. Our missionary friars set up kitchens and, with the help of volunteers, provided over 180,000 hot meals.
Our friars have moved on from just helping with immediate survival needs to also helping refugees rebuild their homes. Several in-depth missions and constant onsite work by engineers helped define the action plan for the coming months.
The Syria Project is Immense!
We have missionary friars serving in the city of Aleppo where there are 56 completely collapsed buildings. At least 900 buildings are considered too dangerous to inhabit, and 5,600 houses need to be inspected before they can be reoccupied.
We also have missionary friars serving in the villages of Knaye, Yacoubieh, and Latakia. In Knaye, 70 percent of the homes were destroyed. In Yacoubieh, 30 percent of the houses were destroyed.
Our friars are planning to help make 5,300 homes habitable again. That means 5,300 families will not be living in shelters or on the streets anymore.
Will you help us to provide a safe home for these weary Syrian refugee families?
The Homeless in Morrocco
More recently, just before midnight in the city of Marrakech in Morrocco, North Africa, many houses in the old city collapsed like a house of cards when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck.
Currently, there are nearly 2,900 victims. People who survived were left homeless and living on the streets. The earthquake added to the poverty and misery of Moroccan single-parent families and Sub-Saharan migrants who are among those living in the older neighborhoods of the city.
Mountainous areas were especially hard hit and are difficult to reach.
The house of the friars and the Franciscan Church of the Saint Martyrs of Marrakech, the parish church, withstood the shock with some damage. The cross of the church remained, leaning as if looking with veneration and respect at the victims of the earthquake.
Franciscan friars have been distributing necessities, including toiletries and personal hygiene products, food, clothes, tents, and electric generators to the refugees of this natural disaster.
Your Generosity Makes It Possible
Will you stand with our missionary friars as they struggle to find the resources to support these homeless families?
It is only due to the generosity of people like you that our Franciscan missionary friars can serve some of the neediest refugees in our world. But while their needs sometimes seem endless, be assured that hope is no stranger among them.
Consider how, when asked, some refugees say, “I am blessed. I woke up this morning.” They may have woken up in a cold, makeshift shelter or refugee camp, but they are “blessed.” Many of their friends and family members did not survive the earthquakes.
“Blessed” indeed are we all. Will you share some of your material blessings during this Christmas season so homeless refugees can continue to survive, and others can have a safe, secure home again? Please do it in honor of the most well-known homeless family in all of history.
A blessed Christmas to you,
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. Thank you for your generosity to Franciscan missionaries throughout the year. Will you please be generous once again as Christmas approaches? It is only because of people like you that we can serve sisters and brothers in great need in our world. God bless and keep you and your family.