By Josué Villaión
Up to 300 Syrian university students in war-torn Homs are now able to continue their courses, thanks to help from a leading Catholic charity.
Christian student Sandra Satmeh told Aid to the Church in Need that the charity’s university grants are invaluable for families impoverished by the civil war.
She said: “It is a big help to our families, since we barely have enough to eat with or to pay the rent on our homes.”
Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, ACN has given more than £3.2 million to support school and university places.
Thanking the charity for its support for university students in Homs, young student Pascal Napki said: “We know now that we are not alone.
“This gives us the motivation to complete our studies and at the same time to help those who are most in need here in Homs.”
Civil engineering student Anaghem Tannous also stressed how education was helping Christians in a region devastated by war.
He said: “There has been a great deal of suffering in Homs, and many families have lost everything in the war.
“Being able to continue with my studies is what has helped me to remain hopeful and stay happy through these years.
“Now I want to be able to deepen my knowledge and help other people here in my country.”
Wissam Salloum, 21, a software engineering student, said: “I’m in my fourth year. Hopefully next year I will graduate, but I would like to continue my studies in order to avoid being sent to war.”
Syrian men can be conscripted at 18 for an open-ended period, unless there is only one man in the family or they are studying at university.
Mr Salloum added: “Many thanks for your help. There are many of us facing difficulties, but you never failed us with your support.”
Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world.
Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West.