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In Aleppo, Syria, the Church Is Literally Rebuilding Lives

Archbishop’s “Build to Stay” program gives hope to elderly man as he cares for his wife with Alzheimer’s

This report is contributed by Eliane També of Aid to the Church in Need.

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Abboud Banna is one of this city’s unlucky ones. The home of this 74-year-old Melkite Catholic was severely damaged in a recent bombing attack on the Christian quarter of Syria’s largest city. Along with his wife (75)—who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease—and his single daughter, plus a grandchild, Mr. Banna now lives in a single room, hoping for better times. A hand injury is keeping him from doing any kind of work.

Yet, the local Church is giving him some hope. Under the aegis of the “Build to Stay” program, an ambitious initiative launched by Aleppo’s MetropolitanArchbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart, work is steadily underway to repair the Banna family home. “Build to Stay” provides training and funding for Christians whose livelihood has been destroyed in the country’s now four-year-old civil war. Brick laying and more advanced construction techniques are on the curriculum in a big way.

To help the Banna family cope from month to month, the local Church also gives them a modest stipend.

Such is the commitment of the indomitable prelate, who is determined to ensure that Christians have a future in their country, even in the face of very long odds.

Mr. Banna is still shaken up from the “big shock” of missiles landing on his home and that of his daughter. It sent him on a mad scramble to find appropriate shelter for Mrs. Banna. He credits his faith for surviving “this cruel stage” of his life, proclaiming that he “was always confident that God would not abandon him and would ease his pain and fatigue and anxiety.”

He is deeply grateful to the local Church, which responded so generously—by letting the family live rent-free in the room, and making sure they had enough to eat and were receiving medical care. Even so, the family has to deal with “lack of electricity and water” from time to time, said Mr. Banna, who is “still suffering from a fear of missiles.”

He is praying today that Aleppo’s security improves and longs for the day that he can “return to [his] house, and find a job to secure [my] family a better future—with the help of God and the Church.” Meanwhile, Archbishop Jeanbart’s bold “Build to Stay” initiative is keeping the Banna family afloat.

 

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