One year on from the Syria earthquake
Mary’s Meals continues to support the children of Syria traumatised by ‘a night they will never forget’
On 6 February 2023, two earthquakes – registering 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude – hit Syria and Turkey, killing many thousands of people and displacing thousands more.
After over a decade of civil war, the people of Syria had to fight again for their survival. Communities, many of them made up of people already displaced by conflict, had very little access to food and shelter. Families lost their loved ones and their homes.
Within hours of the earthquakes, Mary’s Meals launched an emergency appeal, and thanks to your incredible generosity, our local partner Dorcas was able to deliver life-saving food aid to 7,000 people every day in Aleppo. Support was also later extended to provide hygiene packs, blankets and counselling services to those affected by the tragedy. Your response to our cry for help meant that we could respond immediately in one of Syria’s darkest moments.
One year on, Syria's children continue to feel the life-changing impact of the earthquakes.
Kevork is 10 years old, studies in the fifth grade and loves to play basketball with his friends.
He says: “When the earthquake happened, I was sleeping and woke up to the voices of my family and brothers. At first, I did not understand anything. Everything was moving. When it stopped, I felt very afraid.
“I started crying and I ran to my family. When I was on my way to them, the earthquake came again, and I started screaming. Then, my family and I left the house. It was 4:30 in the morning, and it was pitch dark, cold and rainy. I will never forget this night.
“The school was closed after the earthquake for about two months. I missed school, especially my friends and seeing them. I prayed every day for this to end. I love math and playing with my friends.”
Hamza is nine years old and studies in the fourth grade. He is passionate about life, loves learning and loves helping others.
He says: “My five brothers and I felt very afraid. We moved to the park when the earthquake happened. It was pitch black, there was no electricity, and it was raining ... everyone was afraid.
“We returned home two hours later and I slept, but at one o'clock in the afternoon, the earthquake repeated, and here it became much worse. I did not want to return to the house for fear of its destruction.
“My school was closed. I missed my friends and playing with them, and I missed my lessons. My life has changed a lot since the earthquake.”
Mary’s Meals has been working in Aleppo since 2017, feeding more than 4,000 children every school day. Working with Dorcas, we serve nutritious meals at school, attracting children to the classroom, many of whom are still experiencing the symptoms of trauma caused by almost 13 years of civil war.
Jessi, 26, has been part of the Dorcas team since 2019. After the earthquake struck at 4.20am, Jessi and her colleagues responded immediately, providing food, drink and shelter for desperate families. Fueled by the support of the emergency appeal, Mary’s Meals and Dorcas were able to provide hope amidst the despair for those enduring immense suffering in Syria.
Jessi says: “After overcoming the immediate shock, the most important thing for us was providing food and drink for families, and then to try to restore their homes or search for other places to be homed. A large number of individuals were affected and no-one had any food, so it made a big difference in meeting the needs during the crisis.
“Children ran to our doors to receive food. There were elderly people who thanked us, especially those who had a disability and were unable to move and meet their own needs.
“I cannot describe my feeling of joy when we were sitting in a circle with the children and sandwiches were being distributed to them and they were eating them with enjoyment, joy, and laughter.”
The economic situation in Aleppo remains very difficult. Many families only have bread to eat and are completely reliant on food aid. For children, Mary’s Meals are a lifeline.
Our partner has noticed that sometimes the children don’t eat all of their sandwich when they are given food at school. When asked about this, the children explain that they are taking some home for their siblings who don’t have any other food.
Although many families still rely on aid to help meet their basic needs, your support is helping to restore stability and giving children in Syria hope and the chance to dream of a brighter future.
Hamza says: “Most children cannot bring food with them to school. When I get a sandwich at school, I feel happy and full, which helps me focus more, and I'm happy to share food with my friends.”
Your response to our emergency appeal saved lives in Syria and provided children with food, comfort and hope. A heartfelt thank you for your incredible generosity.
In a country where more than two million children remain out of school and more than a quarter of children under five years old suffer chronic malnutrition, our school feeding programme is more important than ever.