"After the war, the earthquake: here in Aleppo we offer shelter and prayer".
The terrible earthquake between Turkey and Syria (the number of victims is incalculable at the moment, already more than 3700) and the fate of a land already battered by war and poverty. The account to the Compass from the Salesians of Aleppo: "We offer hot food and a bed in our oratory, but we also have to help many displaced people to regain strength. With prayer and trust in God."
Tormented Syria is even more tormented since yesterday. The powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake shook not only southern Turkey, but also northern Syria. As we write, the death and damage toll in the country is still provisional, but is approaching the figure of more than 3700 dead and an untold number of injured. The provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, Tartus and Raqqa bear the brunt.
In the city of Aleppo, already ravaged first by war and then by poverty, 20 buildings have collapsed and damage to cultural heritage has also been reported by the General Directorate of Heritage and Museums. Even in this dramatic period, as was the conflict, the Don Bosco Oratory, located in the west, proved to be a point of reference for the entire community. It was here, in fact, that the population fled from their homes shaken by the earthquake that had occurred during the night. George Fattal, superior of the Salesian convent in Aleppo, told the Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.
Father, what is the situation now in Aleppo?
There is great suffering because people are scared and fearful of aftershocks after the great tremor at 4 am. The earth shook, houses were destroyed and there were many dead. In addition, the cold and rain made evacuees sick.
Was there any damage to your church?
Thank God, no. We only had some broken glass. During your stay in the city, the Greek Catholic bishop's house collapsed and a priest was left under the rubble. (Yesterday afternoon, unfortunately, his lifeless body was found. He is Fr. Imad Daher ed.).
Did you welcome people fleeing from their homes?
Yes, immediately after the violent earthquake, people started coming to our facilities. We have an oratory that usually takes in about 900 young people. People left their homes and found shelter with us.
What did you do to help them?
First of all, before preparing the hot food, we had to reassure them, because these people have already suffered from war and poverty, and now they also have to face the consequences of the earthquake. We reminded them that, when the Lord was in the midst of the troubled sea, He asked the disciples, "Why are you afraid?" He is with us and in our midst.
Does faith help them?
Those who arrived immediately after the 4:00 a.m. tremor wanted to join in the celebration of the 7:00 a.m. community Mass. Then, before lunch, they stopped us and asked us to pray the Rosary together. And so we did, asking Our Lady to help us this time too.
What can the rest of the world and especially the West do for the Syrian people after this umpteenth tragedy?
Material aid will certainly be needed for reconstruction, because this earthquake, as violent as we have ever seen, has caused the collapse of so many buildings. But above all, we ask you to pray for us.