Syria has been torn apart for years by a struggle between opposing groups, but life has always tried to continue. Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh remained alongside the people of Aleppo as vicar of the Bishop and parish priest, serving the Catholic community of Latin rite. Fr. Ibrahim is a Syrian, born into a Christian family in Damascus, and a friar minor of the Custody of the Holy Land. He described the suffering of his people and his community through books that have helped raise awareness in the West of the tragedy of war experienced also by children.
In January 2015, Fr. Ibrahim wrote: “It is not difficult to imagine the climate of despair among our people: sick elderly people who suffer from the extreme cold, children and women with severe symptoms of malnutrition, families who can no longer pay the rent of houses, people, especially parents, who no longer take care of themselves and therefore, also due to long neglected minor diseases, suffer from serious damages to their health that can even cause death.
The friar has not abandoned his community and explains with serenity that it would be like for a mother to abandon her sick child. Fr. Ibrahim has thus organized a network of assistance on a parish level, thanks to the international support, managing to get diapers, powdered milk and basic necessities in the refugee camps. But not only that. To try to alleviate the psychological damage on young people caused by the war, he engaged almost a thousand boys and children entrusted to him in painting an entire street during the summer months, so as to make them less anxious, less frightened and more serene.
These are small gestures of a shepherd who remains next to the flock entrusted to him. Georges Abou Khazen, Latin Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, said: “The situation in Aleppo is very difficult, not only for obvious safety reasons: there is a lack of electricity, which we can only produce through diesel generators; fuel costs money and drinking water is scarce. Fortunately, we have wells in the churches and so we can also distribute water. Then there is the problem of the destroyed houses. The prices of goods are skyrocketing, as much as the economic embargo. We, as a Church, would like to help the small artisans, and those who do not work to survive, to find a job. But faced with the unstoppable river of blood, we only ask for peace. We count on your prayers.”