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Dirty War!

Two months ago, my best friend's son passed away, he was only seven years old, he died when the terrorists sent guided missile to Al-Tijara street where she was passing with her only son, We were heartbroken, we wish we could do something, anything, to take away her pain, she has not been in contact with anyone, since that time, including me. I'm still trying reaching out to her, and now she is in hospital in Lebanon, she may die, because of this tragedy,  I'm also a Mom and would not know what I would do, if I were in her shoes.

The death of a child is tragic, and if the child is yours, there are no words to describe the pain, you can't imagine a life without your only child, I want to say that I can feel her sadness, I don't know how to take away her tears, she was an incredible mother, I know she wants to be alone right now, to try and make sense of what's going on, to try  the many 'why' questions, I wish she would find some comfort, when she sees other moms who lost their beloved sons, and still brave, I know she will never forget, but over time her pain will ease gradually.

 I want to ask those who are killing, bombing, fighting for faith, and killing in the name of God, why? You call it holy war, but it is a dirty war.

The religion of Islam should not be confused with what these terrorists have done. The terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaida who kill innocent people are actually, by the definition of the Quran, not Muslims, but plain murderers. We should not let our emotions overcome our logic and understanding. There is no religious scripture that does not condemn terrorism. Every righteous person in any religion would condemn such actions regardless of terrorist’s race, country or religious background.

Dr. Martin Luther King, said:

Why are humans even considered animals? Aren't we more like viruses? Are there any other animals on the planet who cause so much destruction to Earth? We're even worse than viruses. Because at least viruses don't kill off other viruses, they work together to kill off a certain something.

I want to ask Saudi Arabia: why are you doing this? We are being hurt and bleeding, because these alien people perform their deeds in the name of Islam. Why did they kill innocent people? Why did they kill civilians, women, old people and children? Let the Arab countries answer this question – who are they sending to Syria, who are they arming.

 

Butheina  Al-Nounou

Happy new year 2014

I want everyone to be happy this year, please my God it is enough, yes it is enough.

Just because my eyes do not show tears, doesn't mean my heart doesn't cry, oh it is bleeding. Just because I come out strong, doesn't mean there is nothing wrong, I choose to pretend that I am happy, to encourage the people around me, may be some people do not understand the silence between my words, they do not understand the sadness behind my smile, and the unsaid feeling of mine.

They think I am fine, they don't know that daily I am dying, for my country has been suffering at the hands of al-Qaeda affiliates, for the children, women, old people in the tent, and for the martyrs.

I want to be happy again, I want to see my country safe, I want to live those moments again, I am sick of wearing false smile, I want everybody to smile again, to live in our country cheerfully, helpfully, hopefully, peacefully, by remembering our national heroes, our soldiers, who died to defend our lovely country.

I wish there was antibiotic for curing heartbreak, I wish there was magical switch, that we could press to erase all the memories we lived as Syrians, they say that time heals all wounds, but I don't think that we will be able to ever forget the heartbreak, and the heartache, that the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, US caused us, I challenge time to shower its miracle on us, after suffering years of pain.

Happy New Year, everyone. And a special Happy New Year's hug to our soldiers, your sparkling spirit tells me that 2014 is going to be a wonderful year.

Please God guide us through the events that are to come, and give us courage to face the future with faith, help us not to lose sight of the happy ending, and to look forward to that time when peace shall reign on earth.

Happy new year Syria, happy new year real Syrians.

Butheina Al-Nounou

Syria Keen to Meet Basic Needs of Persons with Disabilities

A package of procedures recently adopted by the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Affairs underscored their keenness to meet the basic needs of persons with disabilities and ameliorate their situation.

Marking the 21st anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD), several reports were released and a number of activities were held to this effect.

Within this context, Syria has recently joined the International Treaty to facilitate access to published works by visually and Impaired persons and persons with other disabilities.

Syria's Permanent Representative to the U.N in Geneva, Dr. Faisal al-Hamwi inked the treaty on behalf of Syria at the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva.

The treaty aims at alleviating obstacles that hinder the complete intellectual growth of those physically challenged and help them participate in various aspects of the cultural life and scientific progress and strengthening the positive impact of information technology.

The parties joining the treaty should work to harmonize their national legislations with the provisions of the treaty and encourage international cooperation to support their goals.

Being the first country in the region to join this treaty, Dr. al Hamwi stressed Syria's keenness on respecting and providing all rights to its citizens, particularly those with special disabilities.

He reiterated that Syria spares no efforts to enable the disabled persons cope with the intellectual, cultural and scientific developments.

Rawaa-Ghanam 

Situation of disabled people in Syria

On December 3rd, 2013, Syria and all world countries will mark the 21st anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) that aim to promote an understanding of people with disability, who make up 15% of world's population, and muster up support for their dignity, rights and well-being.

Several activities are to be held around the world and special reports will be released on this occasion.

The Syria times e-newspaper has seized this opportunity to open the file of disability in Syria and to elucidate how the ongoing crisis negatively affected  the situation of people with disability.

"Since the 1970s, the Department of Persons with Disability (PWD) was established at the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to cater services to people with disability," the Department's Director Ahmad Efnekher said.

Services

He made it clear that the department plays the role of mediator between the PWDs and the public establishments to ensure jobs, loans and investment license to the PWDs.

"Besides, the department guides persons with disabilities to the social care institutes and intercedes with the Non-Governmental Organizations to meet some of the requirements of the people with disabilities, such as wheelchairs, headphones, medicines…etc," Efnekher added.

National plan

In 2008, the cabinet approved a national plan, drawn up by the Syrian Organization for the Disabled "AAMAL", to rehabilitate the PWDs,

The approval was preceded by a symposium held on December 3rd in 2007 in Damascus in the presence of Mrs. Asmaa al-Assad to discuss the plan. 

On December 11th 2010, a national Forum on disability was held at Omayyad Palace where eight topics - policies, strategies, integrating disabled students, services, initiatives, Law, supportive environment, media, and disability and Job- were debated.

The participants in the forum suggested establishing a national commission for disability affairs to activate the national plan. But, the forum's recommendations have not been implemented.

It was said then that the PWDs  make up 10% of the Syria's population.

Statistics

Until December 31st ,2012, the number of the PWDs registered in 59 social care institutes for blindness, deaf, cerebral palsy, physical and intellectual disabilities reached up to 4638- mostly male- according to  statistics gleaned from the Social Affairs Ministry.

The statistic shows that 27 social care institutes are governmental and 32 ones are non-governmental and the number of the PWDs in the governmental institutes is 3139 cases.

All these numbers  changed over the past year due to the spread of acts of vandalism and terrorism in the country.

Obstacles

Efnekher told us that many institutes- especially in northern Aleppo province- have been damaged and several others have been turned into shelters for displaced citizens, who fled their homes in flashpoint areas.

The institutes have been used as shelters since summer vacation.

 He added that the ministry, in coordination with the Relief Committee, is working  to relocate the displaced citizens to other shelters in order to re-open the institutes for the PWDs.

"This year, the institutes recorded one of the lowest ever turnout for several reasons related to the current circumstances in the country. One of which is the difficulty of ensuring buses to pick up the people with disability to the institutes," Efnekher said. 

Plans

The ministry is planning to set up new social care institutions in the safe areas in the provinces of Homs, Sweida and Quneitra and urges the NGOs to open new branches for special education services.

It, in addition, will reactivate the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and launch a social awareness campaign to confront the new situation of disability in Syria.  

"The current circumstances caused  disabilities that necessitate rehabilitation at the social and psychological level," the director of the PWD's Department said.

Asked about the Central Council of the PWDs, which was established under the 2004 Law No.34, Efnekher clarified that a new body called 'Higher Disability Committee" will be formed to replace the council after the issuance of the new law.

"The ministry is working to develop some legislations and laws of the PWDs according to a new vision," Efnekher asserted, adding that the cooperation between the ministry on the one hand and the regional and international organizations on the other regarding the disability issue, comes within the framework of development programs.

Translating commitments into action is what is needed to ensure accessibility to persons with disability in all aspects of society and development all over the world. 

A fact of everyday life

Stigma, discrimination, and exclusion remain  facts of everyday life for too many persons with disability all over the world, despite all major steps taken to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (issued in 2006), the UN Sectary General Ban Ki-moon said on September 9th 2013: "

In conclusion, we echo what the WHO Director General, Margaret Chan said: "Disability is part of human condition...Almost every one of us will be permanently or temporarily disabled at some point in life... Even in high-income countries, up to 40% of people with disabilities do not have access to the services they need."

Statistics on disabled people registered at Social Affairs Ministry till December, 31, 2012

 

 

Total number

 

Gender

 

Number

 

Classification

Social Care Institutes for PWDs

female

male

514

194

320

2

Government

Blindness

278

 

108

170

10

Non-Government

792

302

490

12

Total

785

380

405

10

Government

 

Intellectual disability

 

671

150

521

11

Non-Government

1456

530

926

21

 

Total

 

 

345

 

155

 

190

 

3

 

Government

Cerebral Palsy

55

20

35

1

Non-Government

400

175

225

4

Total

1255

 

550

 

705

 

8

 

Government

 

 

Deaf

 

420

170

250

9

Non-Government

1675

720

955

17

Total

240

90

150

4

Government

Physical disability

 

75

35

40

1

Non-Government

315

125

190

5

Total

Reported by: Basma Qaddour

Syrian Women, Peacemakers

Prior to the ongoing crisis Syria has been facing, Syrian women have had a pivotal role at various levels and made effective and remarkable strides in building modern Syria and in preserving its peace, stability and progress.

Syria's extraordinary circumstances have had bad impacts and serious repercussions on women as they are the hardest-hit category that is suffering acts of violence and rape committed by the foreign-backed terrorist groups.

Marking the International Day for Combating Violence against Women, Ministry of Social Affairs in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently organized a workshop to shed light on the role of Syrian women in peacemaking in society.

Presidential Political and Media Advisor Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, who attended the workshop, said in a statement to journalists: "Syrian women under the crisis have encouraged struggle for the sake of the homeland and they are expected to play a distinguished role in rebuilding Syria and making peace at the local and internal level".

Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Kinda al-Shammat stressed the importance of preserving Syrian women's pioneering role in society and at enhancing this role, especially in the confrontation of the violence and human rights violations the Syrian women are being exposed to under the current circumstances in Syria.

Al-Shammat necessitated empowering Syrian women at the political level so as to contribute to making civil peace and preserving stability in the country.

She reiterated that it is important to reach principles that focus on protecting Syrian women from the negative consequences of wars and from violent and barbaric. It is also necessary to document such violations as a first step towards bringing the perpetrators to justice, she said.

"The Syrian government is committed to the UN resolution pertaining supporting woman's issues, hailing the Syrian women' struggle to get freedom and preserving her dignity and sovereignty" Al- Shammat added.

For her part, the Minister of Culture Dr. Lubana Mshaweh highlighted women's great role in disseminating culture, amity and tolerance to attain a better society, stressing women are the "bedrock of society."

Resident Representative of the UN organization in Syria, Yaacoub al- Helou referred to the joint projects and programs between the Ministry of Social Affairs' concerned bodies and the U.N organizations working in Syria aiming at easing the suffering the of Syrian people, especially women and children.

Head of the IOM mission in Syria Maria Rumman said women and children are major victims of the crisis in Syria, pointing out that most of the displaced people are women and children.

She clarified that the U.N resolutions have noted the bad impacts of the crisis on women and the women's suffering, particularly from sexual and physical violence.

Participants in the workshop discussed the necessity of enhancing the Syrian women's role in achieving local peace and stability, in taking part in awareness campaigns related to the elimination of violence against women and in carrying out training programs and workshops on social and political qualifying.

On the sideline of the workshop, the Social Affairs Minister opened an art exhibition depicting the visions of the martyrs' children concerning violence against women and mothers. A number of martyrs' wives and mothers were also honored.

Rawaa Ghanam 

'Business Clinics' Center at Damascus University Offers Free Services to Every youth to Enter Job Market

Youths are the backbone of the nation as they can change the future of the society with their well-being and courageous behavior. Several projects have been set up by NGOs in cooperation with the government to develop and invest youths' capabilities in different fields.      

One of these projects is called the "Business Clinics" Center, which was opened on Monday by Damascus University and The Syria Trust for Development at the Faculty of Civil Engineering.

The idea of the "Business Clinics" first came up by the Trust in 2008 and the opening ceremony of the center at Damascus University comes a year after ratifying partnership between the two sides (The Trust and Damascus University).

According to a brochure distributed in the ceremony, the center is a bridge to connect youths with business sector through offering free consultations and training courses that would help them hone their capabilities, achieve community development, and support activities and volunteer initiatives plus participatory projects.

The "Business Clinics" center will hold workshops and courses on "Job search skills", "job interviews", "startups", "social entrepreneurship", and "life skills" and will help youths to identify their personality type.

Website

The Syriatimes' reporter toured the center, which includes a hall for virtual training and a library as well as training, consultation and waiting halls, and conducted interviews with some trainers and volunteers there to shed light on the mechanism of working and registration in the center.

Mr. Said Swed, who is in charge of the "Business Clinics" website, said: "we communicate with youths via the Facebook- ClinicDaUni- where we post several programs on the skills of job search and the time management and on personality test."

But, he added, the website of the "Business Clinics" and specialized consultations are to be launched within two months.

"The existence of the center at university campus will achieve a better communication with university students. We are optimistic as Syria has creative and generous youths. Youths are to be partners in the process of building the website with us." Mr. Swed said.

Library

Miss. Seba Shaddod, a volunteer working at the library, said that the library contains around 250 books from Harvard University on the job market and social entrepreneurship and on the way to launch special initiatives to develop the community.

"We give the youths in the center the books that serve their interests," she added.

Her colleague, Mr. Fadi Ibrahim, told us" "We connect with Harvard business library to get some books and we also have books by Ibrahim Elfiky." 

"In the future, we plan to hold workshops for youths in order to discuss the books that they read. Our main goal is to bridge the gap between Academic study and the job market"

The most important thing in the center is making informed career choices (Tamheed Test). "This test is free and helps students to make career decision," Miss Shaddoud said.

Training

 As for topics being chosen in training courses, Miss. Weam Tannos said: "We try to offer the services that youths want and we carry out a survey to define the youths' requirements."

She added that the center, which will open its doors every day from 9:00am till 4:00 pm except Friday and Saturday, is to hold 3-6 workshops a day in three training halls, each can accommodate 25-40 youths.

Over the past period, well over 84 volunteer trainers have worked for the programs that attracted more than 4500 youths, who have benefited from 180 training workshops on "job search skills", "entrepreneurship", "setting up small projects", "life skills" and other topics.

Culture of Volunteerism 

Another type of training is also available in the center, precisely in a hall named ' social entrepreneurship' where Green Bees team works for spreading awareness among university students on the culture of volunteerism.

Mr. Mohammad Baized, a volunteer trainer at the Green Bees said: "Our team, which consists of 10 volunteers, is affiliated to Damascus University and it was established in 2012".

"Previously, we mounted workshops to shed light on all faculties within a framework of a project called ' Mofadalati.. Mostaqbali'- in cooperation with the 'business clinics'- in order to help students, who had completed general secondary school, to choose the proper specialization." 

As many as 6000 students benefited from the ' Mofadalati.. Mostaqbali' project [ slang means: selection of my study at university shapes my future] . In other words: "My aptitude determines my altitude"

Mr. Biazed is one of the volunteer trainers, who are very proud of their works.   

Another volunteer trainer was very happy for playing an active role in spreading the culture of business awareness among youths.

 Miss, Christine Kashar has worked at the business clinics since 2008 and helped youths to be aware of business sector.

"The 'Business Clinics' program was part of 'Shabab' initiative that was launched by the Trust to enable youths in Syria, aged 15-29, to choose their career by building their business knowledge and skills to increasing their employability," She said.

Miss. Kashar decided to be a volunteer at the business clinics because she believed in the goals of the Shabab initiative. "Personally speaking, I have to believe in the goals of any initiative in order to work as a volunteer."

She was among the trainers, who were honored in the ceremony, in appreciation of her efforts. "I was waiting for this honor and it lift my morale to be more active."

Verily, the opening of the center at Damascus University also boosted the morale of university students who challenge the current circumstances in the country and insist on continuing their study to be active and initiator in their community.

Reported by: Basma Qaddour

The Bleeding Story of Sadad

 The town of Sadad in Homs countryside was the target of a recent terrorist attack. I did not know this town before, but the martyr who came to the house next door to mine and his wounded associates made me interested to find out more details about this town and what had happened there.

"It is not coincidence that terror attacks this town. What had happened was a systematic plan drawn by these terrorist groups to fragment Syria's unity and territorial integrity and to destroy the pattern of co-existence and security the Syrians live in", one of the people said.

"I think that the attack and the acts of killing and destruction committed by the takfiri terrorists in this town were a dirty work which aimed at breaking up the state and displacing an important component of the Syrian society, the Christians. They first targeted Maloula and now Sadad," he added.

"What happened in our lovely town is but a heinous massacre which is beyond any description. They have perpetrated killing and sabotage acts under false pretexts and in the name of Islam forgetting that the teachings of Islam forbid killing or attacking others. They want to impose a new doctrine based on bloodshed, violence and eliminating the other", a woman said.

"Holy places and people's doctrines in this area have been protected over centuries. We have been enjoying security and peace and freedom to worship. We have to defend our Syria , our existence and to get rid of the terrorists and their ideology," the woman said firmly.

The attack did not affect the morale of the people of the town. Syrians, from all spectrums of society, defended Sadad as they refused to  get any part of Syria under the control of those takfiri  groups.

Tears mixed with much pride accompanied the procession of the martyr and mourners represented all spectrums of society .

"He was martyred while repelling the aggression targeting the people of Sadad and their historical church. By defending the church he was also defending  the town's mosques and coexistence," one of the martyr's comrades said.

"We are all ready to defend our Syria relentlessly whatever the sacrifices are. Our blood is a scapegoat for the soil of the homeland ," he stressed.

The comrades escorted the martyr to his final resting place and returned quickly to continue their sacred mission of defending the homeland and clearing it from terrorists. They stressed that they will spare no effort to terminate terrorism and restore peace and security to Syria.

Amal Farhat