Bridge of Peace School – A Path from Refugee Camp to Permanent Village

CHILDREN SHOOTING V SIGNThe Bridge of Peace School project is the third piece of a larger vision that will support small refugee camps in northern Syria. The first of these projects was the completion of a well water drinking system that has brought safe, clean drinking water to 1500 refugees at the Al Waleed Camp and has thereby enabled us to provide running water for the building of fourteen one-room houses and now the school.

Built at the convergence of three camps, Al Waleed, Sahl Algaab and Gorba Watan with a total population of 3,800 people, it will serve initially as an education hub for approximately 120 children to start, allowing for room to grow so that hundreds more children will later be able attend.

The school will be the first component of a much larger project that will eventually transform what are now a series of transient refugee camps into a more permanent community village as sadly, residents of these camps have no homes to return to. Future components of this vision could include rehabilitations of well water systems, the construction of a medical clinic and even private entrepreneurial ventures such as small shops.

The Bridge of Peace School will encompass 500 sq. Meters (5,303 sq. Ft.) that  includes four enclosed class rooms, a small administration room, an outdoor entertainment area equipped with benches for seating, and a public address system for performances.  In addition, a cemented playground area will be constructed and equipped with swings, jungle gyms, volleyball / basketball /soccer area and associated sports items.  Included is basic landscaping.  For security, the entire school will be surrounded by a perimeter fence made of cement with a main entry door.

Each classroom will initially be supplied with large dry erase boards, books, paper, notebooks, pens / pencils / erasers for older students and crayons, clay, craft paper, glue, scissors and other art supplies for the younger students.  There will also be a school computer and projector for educational purposes.  A small generator or solar system will be purchased to supply electricity for lighting and other low intensity electrical needs.

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION CREWThe Bridge of Peace School is being implemented in two phases, the first being the hard construction costs, wood stoves for heating, toilets, floor coverings, rent for the land and the equipping for educational and administrative needs.  The second phase includes the construction and equipping of the playground and entertainment area.

PHASE I:                                   $  6,090.00

PHASEII:                                   $  4,300.00

TOTAL COST:                        $10,390.00

Bridge of Peace Syria Supports Alwan Kindergarten

imageIn March, 2015 Bridge of Peace Syria Executive Director Hamsa Kurth Newmark along with her husband Moshe attended a three day all Syria conference in Washington, D.C. A recurrent theme was a strong emphasis on the need for education in Syria where a rapidly growing generation of children has never attended school.

In May of this year Hamsa began a dialog with Abdulkader Almurie, co-imagefounder and manager of the Alwan Kindergarten in Hass, Idlib Provence Syria, a school that services up to 120 students between the ages of 4-8 years old. In July, Bridge of Peace Syria began funding part of the schools’ operations and needs. This is a very exciting project for BOPS as it takes our humanitarian aid beyond the basics of feeding and clothing refugee children and invests efforts toward what we see will one day become  basis for a free Syria. Here is the mission of the Alwan (which means colors) Kindergarten:

“Alwan School is an educational establishment in Hass/Idlib, Syria. The imageschool serves as a center for both education and psychological support for children who have lived with war and who suffer its effects; to make them smile and see the world in a more beautiful way and with an open mind.

The priority given to education includes imageEnglish, Arabic, drawing, music, science mathematics and Quran. The teachers are university graduates who work as volunteers with no salary, just to make children happy.”

imageThe school teaches displaced children that come from neighboring villages, most having had to flee from northern Hamaa where they were bombed and shelled everyday from regime aircraft; approximately a dozen of them are martyr children or orphans.

In Abdullkader’s own words, here are more details about the Alwan Kindergarten.

“I, along with three of my university graduate friends, rented a building and paid for the first three months rent out of our own pockets. imageWe painted the walls with fun images for children, purchased some school supplies (pens, pencils, paper, crayons etc. ), some desks and boards were already there, and began the school with the hopes of finding a donor as I do not have another job and am unable to further support the school beyond the first three months.

imageThe school is in session four days a week, from Sunday through Wednesday from 8:00am – Noon. We organize the transportation of the children to and from school in order so they can attend and return home safely . Beside the lessons the children receive, they also have psychological class where two women teachers play games with the children, sing with them, imagedraw and try to see what is happening in their life, discussing how to turn their thinking from their bad life experience to a more positive view of life. This is the most important thing for these children.

We have a total of eight teachers, including two psychological teachers and as the manager of the school I am responsible for the teachers, lessons and plans, I also teach English when I am not too busy. I have daily meetings with the teachers where we talk about their needs and the problems they face and see how we can make the school better.”

imageBridge of Peace Syria is currently paying for the school’s monthly rent, some of the school supplies, water for the children to drink and for the transportation of the children to and from the school; we hope to expand funding to also supply them with expanded school supplies and a nourishing lunch for each child. We hope that you will support BOPS as we continue to help these refugee children. It is an investment in their future and in the building of a free society in Syria. bit.ly/BOPSyriaDonate                            Photos courtesy of Alwan School

The “Ramadan Kitchens ” of Atmeh and Moadamiyeh

There are two “Ramadan Kitchens” in Syria being served by Bridge of Peace Syria, one in Atmeh Refugee Camp and the other in Moadamiyeh.

Bridge of Peace Syria is helping to feed Syrian families most in need during this holy month of Ramadan.  The first location is at the Atmeh Refugee Camp, also known at the “Olive Tree” camp, located on Syria’s northern border with Turkey, north of Idlib.  imageIt was initially formed in 2011 by Sryians who failed to cross over to Turkey as the war began.  From hundreds of refugees then it has grown into a tent city with over 60,000 people who continue to flee from the violence that racks Syria.  Due to it being situated on the border with Turkey and Turkish air space the camp is relatively safe from Barrel bomb attacks by the Assad regime.  imageBridge of Peace Syria’s Tamer Altaiar and a crew of two others from neighboring Al Waleed Refugee Camp have been helping cook for hundreds of people daily, as they have joined a much larger effort of volunteers with the Syria Smile Makers Team.

imageThe second “Ramadan Kitchen” is in the City of Moadamiyeh, a suburb of Damascus that has been under siege since 2012, meaning that the city has been surrounded by regime soldiers who do not allow the flow of food, water, electricity and other life essentials to flow in or out; it is a city where people literally starve to death and malnourishment, especially with children, is common place.

imageThe recipients being fed by both kitchens are primarily martyred families, single mothers with children, and orphans with no parents at all.  In Atmeh,  Tamer and his crew join the others well before sunrise to begin preparations for the day’s cooking.  Using industrial-size metal pots imageplaced on individual large propane burners, they boil water and heat oil, but only after all of the ingredients have been gathered and prepared; the vegetables washed and cut, garlic peeled and sliced, rice and legumes cleaned and spices selected.  Then the cooking begins.  These huge “vats” of food stirred with large wooden sticks take hours to prepared.

imageOnce the cooking is finished, the children are already lined up at the entrance to the kitchen waiting to pick up the rations for their families.  The food has been carefully portioned onto plates, covered with Saran Wrap for protection and ready for distribution.

imageWith smiles on their faces, the children carry the meals to their tents to enjoy along with families after  long day’s fast.

In Moadamiyeh, hundreds of kilometers away, the council in the city has detailed records of families most in need living in the besieged areas.  These are the families that are martyred where one of the parents, usually the husband is either dead or in “detention”, which usually means torture or death.  These are the families that receive a hot meal or staple rations of rice, lentils, cooking oil, tea, sugar etc.  imageBecause there is no electricity or other cooking fuel, meals must be prepared on make-shift stoves using dry leaves, wood scraps or other burnables.

Our hearts go out to all the families we have been able to help, both in Atmeh and in Moadamiyeh who have suffered so much but are still able to carry on, hoping for a brighter future.  imageWith great appreciation we thank the Syria Smile Makers Team for setting up the kitchen in Atmeh and inviting Bridge of Pece Syria to participate with Tamer and his wonderful crew.  Likewise, we greatly appreciate the City Council of Moadamiyeh, especially our liason, imageDani Qappani for helping arrange our assistance to the families there.  In the spirit of Ramadan, Bridge of Peace Syria is very happy to be a part of the “Ramadan Kitchens”.image

DATELINE: MOADAMIYEH – Happiness was the order of the day

Bride of Peace Syria helps put smiles on childrens’s faces

IMG_5370Squeals of laughter, singing and dancing from 100 children, ages 4 to 6, was heard coming from the sweet little pre-school in Moademiyeh. And the name of the school “SHOMOOS ALGHAD” translates into this beautiful meaning “TOMORROW’S SUNS”. How very appropriate!moadamieyeh3

Like in so many other countries, the end of a school year usually ends with a big party. But the Moademiyeh School Management sure knows how to throw a fabulous party despite their limited resources. Moadamiyeh2Like a little miracle and with the help from parents and friends, a magical atmosphere was created for the children and to add a little extra, BRIDGE OF PEACE SYRIA donated some dresses, other costumes, crowns and art supplies and little gifts to add to the party F U N .

Families Rejoice At Receiving LIfe-Giving Food Parcels

Moadamiyeh5The following week, families in the besieged city of Moadamiyeh, who are in desparate need of food, received long awaited parcels sponsored by Bridge of Peace Syria.

SO WHAT WAS IN THE FOOD PARCELS?

  • Cooking oil
  • 5 kilos. of lentils
  • 5 kilos of rice
  • 5 kilos of sugar
  • Assorted canned food
  • 1 kilo of tea

FullSizeRender (24)A special heart-felt thank you goes to our coordinator in Moadamiyeh, Dani Al-Qappani who organized the procurement, distribution and the delivery to some of the most needy families.  This is a start, please help us continue with these food deliveries to the people of Moadamiyeh who are suffering greatly from the brutal, inhumane S I E G E imposed by the Assad regime since 2012.  For more information, please read previous article, Moadamiyeh, A City in Syria Under Siege.

UUEMost of those funds for Moadamiyeh came from donations of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; that hosted a Bridge of Peace Syria fundraising presentation.  Much love and big thanks for their generosity!  UUE1

Bridge of Peace Syria is dedicated to continue raising funds to feed families in this and other besieged cities by encouraging you to open your hearts for a gift of life.  You may donate on line at bit.ly/BOPSyriaDonate or, by sending a check to PO Box 3133 Fayetteville, Arkansas 72702 U.S.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moadamiyeh: A city in Syria under Siege

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With barrel bombs, missile, artillery and sniper attacks from the Assad regime that have pounded the city of Moadamiyeh, a suburb of Damascus, life is unimaginably hard and dangerous.

IMG_5128In addition, in August of 2013, the regime attacked the city with Sarin gas, a lethal chemical weapon that killed innocent civilians, including children.IMG_5123

But, if that were not enough, the city has been under siege since 2012.  To besiege a city is a barbaric, ancient weapon of war, it is a way to starve the populous into submission. The method is to surround a city with armed checkpoints and not let anything or anyone either come in or go out of the city without authorization; no food, water, medical supplies, gas, fuel, electricity etc.  So, even though there is an abundance of food and supplies just minutes away from the besieged area, inside people are literally starving to death…such is the dire situation in Moadamiyeh.IMG_4743

We, at Bridge of Peace Syria, have been getting regular reports of the conditions in this city for nearly a year from a trusted source describing unbearable conditions, from children that are going hungry every day to freezing conditions in winter with no heat and the extreme scarcity of water and electricity. IMG_4733 We were recently made aware of a small pre-school that is only for  Martyr families – (those who have lost a father or mother) consisting of 150 children with 15 teachers.  IMG_5085The children receive cow’s milk daily but the ration is small because of its scarcity, all families in Moadamiyeh count on it to feed their hungry children.  There are ways to obtain food if there is money to pay for it….so we decided to get involved.IMG_5124

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IMG_5083 (1)Bridge of Peace Syria is now dedicating a portion of funds to help feed these children. We have just made funds available for the purchase of rice, vegetables, legumes and other staples that will begin to re-nourish these little ones, the most vulnerable who are suffering greatly from the war.  Below is a report from our person on the ground in Moadamiyeh describing the conditions in Moadamiyeh and the daily hardships of the people that live there.

MOADAMIYEH UNDER SIEGEIMG_5118

“Moadamiyeh has lost more than 80% of its infrastructure.. 30% of the buildings are completely destroyed.. The rest are partly destroyed, all because of shelling … No Gas, gasoline or benze ..No electricity since 2012.. No land phones since 2013 .. No regular water since 2012.. All official schools were partly or completely destroyed.  The population was more than 90,000 before the siege was imposed.. During the siege, it dramatically dropped to 12,000. After a fake truce, thousands returned to the city , the number became 44,000, this includes 15,000 children.IMG_4728

Everything was available , food i mean, after UN made it into Moadamiyeh on July 14th 2014, even though what they brought with them was not at all enough for 30,000 civilians at that time, but after a month of that date, the regime blocked the only way out/in preventing anyone from bringing anything with them, even a biscuit.  And, at the check points the shabeeha (armed militia that do Assad’s bidding) take every slightest thing that is with the people returning to Moadamiyeh. Since then,shops were closed because there was nothing left to sell.. And what is available food these days are cow or sheep milk, beans and some kinds of vegetables .. Very few people still have a little sugar, rice or other staples. IMG_5081 But the rest of people don’t have anything but herbs to feed their kids.  Currently, there are 2,600 families in urgent need, 1,700 are “Martyr” families and 900 are “detainee” families; last month four children died due to lack of medicine and malnutrition.”

As Bridge of Peace Syria extends its aid to these children in Moadamiyeh, just one of the many besieged cities in Syria, we ask you to open your hearts to them.  Please donate to this worthy cause so these children can eat. Please make a donation by clicking HERE.

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Help us Build a Tent School in Al Waleed Refugee Camp

Girl in TentAlmost two million Syrian refugees under the age of 18, have no access to education and risk becoming a lost generation; a growing generation of children who do not know how to read and write their own names.  There is urgency to re-establish schools in Syria as these children will be called upon to help re-build a free and democratic country.

As the war in Syria rages into its fifth year with no end in sight, it continues to devastate the lives of thousands of children daily, over 22,000 children have been killed and millions displaced.  To make a donation please click HERE.

Bridge of Peace SyriaChildren Holding up Food Pots

As we watched the catastrophe of this immense suffering unfold, my husband and I decided to transform our feelings of powerlessness into one of empowerment by getting involved.  We started a non-profit humanitarian aid organization, Bridge of Peace Syria, and we have successfully raised enough funds to provide material aid to children and their families living inside Syria and on the Turkish border that have been displaced, living in thin plastic tents with dirt floors and minimal sources of heat.

SYRIA#2Al Waleed Refugee Camp

This camp in northern Syria shelters 700 people, 300 children, 104 families living in 104 tents.  Over the last few months, to ward off the sub-freezing temperatures, we have delivered tons of urgently needed food, baby milk and baby clothes, hundreds of thick blankets, warm winter coats, hats, gloves, shoes and socks to all the children.  As Bridge of Peace Syria continues to provide these essentials, the urgency of building a school for these children is our next commitment….we need your help.

The Urgency of Educationunnamed (17)

The war has displaced tens of thousands of children between the ages of 5-10 years, children who have never seen the inside of a school or received any formal education.

Going to school brings a sense of normalcy back into the lives of traumatized children
Education fosters self-worth and helps build confidence in children
Education supports the growth of a civil society that fosters equality between men and women
Education creates opportunities that kindle healthy, economic growth, and in this case, the rebuilding of a Free Syria.
Why a “Tent” School

Because the regime in Syria targets schools and hospitals with barrel bomb air strikes, it is much safer to have non-permanent structures, such as tents, for the children to study in.  They are also more economical to purchase and easier to erect.

three girlsThe construction and operation of a tent school in the Al Waleed Refugee Camp will serve approximately 150 children between the ages of 5-10 years.  It will also serve as a pilot school project that can be replicated in other refugee camps.  Reaching our financial goal of $25,600 will allow us to purchase the tents, all materials, set-up the school and completely fund it for the first half year of operation.

The School will consist of three large tents with each tent having a divider to accommodate two classes per tent.  Plastic tarps, floor mats and rugs will be required to cover the dirt floors, wood stoves for heat in the cold months and large eraser boards are needed for each class.

unnamed (21)The Students will need desks and supplies including school books, notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, crayons and markers, back packs along with waterproof carrying bags.  We hope to equip the school with art and craft supplies, including paints, paper, pens, paint brushes, glue, scissors, knitting needles and yarn.  Play items will also be purchased for the very young children.  Snack food and bottled water will also be required on a daily basis.

The Teachers will need to be recruited and paid a stipend.  They will require teaching aids such as books, PC tablets and satellite internet subscriptions.

maher 2Special Counseling:  Traditionally in Syria, school is not in session during the summer months of July and August.  For this period of time we will recruit and pay a stipend to two people trained to counsel children suffering from P.T.S.D. to help them process their trauma caused by shelling, bomb attacks, and forced displacement.  Many children in Al Waleed Refugee Camp have suffered greatly because of family members killed by regimes airstrikes, detainment and torture.

The generation of Syrian Children who do not know how to read and write is growing

Most everyone by now is aware of the horrors faced by innocents in Syria, especially children who have lost their childhood and had their future stolen. The longer these children remain without an education, the more accessible they will be to fundamental beliefs that will limit their future and the constructive rebuilding of their country and the region.

Opening Your Heartdownload

Perhaps you have said to yourself, “I know it is horrible but what can I do?”  This project is a positive answer to that question.  We ask you to please open your heart and make a donation.  Your contribution will help children who have nowhere else to turn.  These children, as others, are our future…please consider your donation as an investment in our humanity!  Thank you.

BLOG BANNER Moshe & Hamsa at MIKEBridge of Peace Syria is an all-volunteer organization and 100% of your donations will go directly to support the children. It enables us to keep our expenses low and our projects cost-effective.  Hamsa and Moshe Newmark work in the U.S. as a team with our Syrian coordinator, Tamer Altaiar, who implements our projects both in Syria and on the Turkish border.

For more information please visit our Facebook page:  Bridge of Peace Syria.  If you wish to contact us directly please email  bridgeofpeacesyria@gmail.com.

 

Syrian Women and Children Matter!

11060261_367864756730397_1070289620256491368_nA very special party was given by Bridge Of Peace Syria at the Sham Association Center for Orphans and Families of Martyrs to honor the sacrifices they made and to bring a little joy into their lives. Food – Fun – Face Paintings and Special Gifts for All.
11099994_366855776831295_6283516843192368850_nEvery woman that was invited received a beautiful New Dress and each child walked away with their face painted and a little gift from the toy bag that was sent by BOPS board member, Jan Rosa Lee from England.

11075139_367864773397062_8750448602957433792_nThe Sham Association Center supports education and offers job opportunities for war widows.  Thirty two children regularly attend the Kindergarten and some of the mothers help with Arts and Crafts Projects. There is also a sewing room with four sewing machines where women can work and makes a little money to help feed their families. It’s a place of support and refuge.

11107365_366855746831298_1949623528627063228_nHonoring the women (mothers) is so important.  Because our primary focus has been on feeding and clothing children to help them through the cold winter months, their mothers often had to take a backseat, were overlooked or taken for granted, but not forgotten.  So, in a separated event, Bridge of Peace Syria staged a Special Party Event to honor the Women, especially the ones who lost their husbands because of Bomb Attacks, Fighting, Forced disappearances or Torture. Some of these women have part-time jobs in a small clothing factory in Antakya which helps feed their families.

11066535_367782420071964_4763072331697710675_nTamer invited 50 women and his team helped prepare a lovely festive environment with food and beverage and as a special gesture each women was supposed to be presented with a beautiful new dress. Well, as it turned out, word about the party spread fast and 150 women showed up. Quickly more food and beverages were purchased so there was enough for all. The party was a big success and 50 women walked away with a new dress.

Thank you to all who donated to help make this possible!  And thank you Tamer for your dedicated service to Syrian Women and Children in Need.  You are our hero😇