A thief among us

About three years ago I was writing in Tishreen newspaper about proceedings happening in Syria, one day I wrote about a thief who stole from sheepfold some cattle, but the police caught him, that day I've mentioned the name of the village, you know what happened? a person from that village contact me by telephone and said: I am the mayor of the village you spoke about, we are very honest people, there is no thief among us, you are wrong, the thief came from outside the village, I want you to write in the same newspaper an apology to our village, or all the people in the village will come to your editor-in-chief, to complain about you, we are very good people you want to slander our reputation, I apologized and did what they asked me to do.

 I am mentioning that story, just to say that Syrian people do not accept a thief among them, so how can they accept terrorists among them? No they don't, we see now in Syria just foreigners, who mislead some Syrians to be terrorists, these days we see inhuman brutal strangers in Syria, did you hear what happened yesterday???, Terrorists exploded a booby-trapped car in al-Sabee Bahrat area in the capital, with reports of many casualties. Yes many casualties, and deaths, I saw them, they were all civilians, among them many children, oh my God I can't express my feeling, it was awful, my God help me, my God help those who lost the lives of their beloved.

 We also can't forget when they killed the head of the Islamic scholars in the Levant, Mohamed Said Ramadan al- Bouti , by a suicide bomber inside al-Iman Mosque, and fifty of his students, no one can believe that, this savagery is happening in Syria, strange, don't you think so?. it was a shock to all Syrians, they killed them inside the mosque, strange, don't you think so?.Also they killed students inside the university….they killed and killed and still killing, but why?

A thief among us was very strange, but now what???  terrorists killing children women, civilians, in schools, hospitals, universities, mosques, I am wondering how can we accept that? Terrorism is strange to the Syrian ears? We have no extremists, those who kill are from outside, Israel is training them to come to Syria, when we defend those militants, we are defending terrorists against a legitimate and progressive power, We all know that the goal is  to install chaos in the region, a chaos that the west wants to use, just for the benefit of Israel.

US, Israel, west and puppets-backed terrorists in Syria have no immorality limit, but we Syrians have, and will have forever, we have hope, we have love ,and belief in God, tomorrow will be better, God will save us, say Amen.

Butheina Alnounou

Three initiatives for Educating affected children in Damascus

Since  rebuilding individual is essential, as many as 22 shelters in Damascus province see three new initiatives concentrate on educating affected children, who are temporary living with their families in the shelters.

The goals and mechanism of implementing each initiative were elaborated in a symposium held on April,2nd , 2013 in IT plaza center in the capital.

The Syria Trust for Development in cooperation with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture organized the symposium which mainly aimed to look for new partners. 

"Such initiatives are very important in the current circumstance Syria is going through and the door is open to all those who determine to offer financial, logistic and humanitarian aid to affected children", the press release read.

Volunteers from the Trust, which supervises the 22 shelters, gave detailed information about steps of implementing each initiative.

"Return to school"

Julian Haddad, a volunteer, said: "the first initiative entitled 'return to school' seeks to remove obstacles that prevent children from going to school and give private lessons to them to continue their study."

He noted that a recent survey on dropout rate in shelters has revealed that there are 665 school dropouts. "We are working to return them to school as soon as possible," Haddad added.

"Reading books"

Another volunteer, Roba Saboneh, talked about the second initiative called "Hekayati M'khabbyeh" [slang means 'my story is hidden'], which focuses on reading stories in an interactive method and establishing a library.

"Integration through art works"

However, the third initiative entitled "integration between children living in shelters and those living in hosting societies" includes several activities such as music, drawing and sculpture.

Shadi Sarweh, who is specialized in jam-session, is working in the third initiative and preparing for a concert to be performed by children from both shelters and hosting societies.

He trains dozens of children to have a choir team.

As for drawing and sculpture activities, Masa al-Mosseli said that at least 75 children are being trained to hold an exhibition for their works.

Revenues of the concert and exhibition will go towards supporting affected families.

"Continuity of initiatives"

Coordinator of the South Region in the Trust, Rana Mas'oud, told the Syria Times, that the three initiatives launched in mid-February in cooperation with Education Ministry and Damascus governorate.

"Since the opening of shelters, the Trust has launched other development and aid initiatives in cooperation with several local organizations," Mas'oud said.

She clarified that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees funded the initiatives in the first stage. "But we want to guarantee the continuity of the initiatives after the UNHCR stops its fund… Other partners are communicating with us to fund ongoing initiatives."

"Yes, you can help"

For his part, the AKDN Communication Assistant, Hasan Saifo, said in a speech that everyone is able to take part in helping affected people in Syria.  

"The initiatives are not magic solutions to all problems. They are just first steps to go forward," Saifo added. 

The Syria Times interviewed two attendees to know their opinion about the initiatives.

"Friendly touch"

Reem Asaad, from 'Lamsat Dafa' initiative [slang means : warm touch], underscored importance of development initiatives in the current situation, noting that "Lamsat Dafa" took part in distributing bags and stationery in several shelters in cooperation with the Trust.

The "Lamsat Dafa" initiative, which was found in December 2011, includes 23 Syrian women and has several aid and development activities.

Nowadays, the " Lamsat Dafa" initiative , the Trust and Education Ministry are working in a project called "Madrasti Ahla" [ a slang mean 'my school is more beautiful'] in 6 schools in Mhajreen area in Damascus.

Wafaa Aqel from" Lamsat Dafa" initiative told us: "We have amazed by the students' creative ideas to make schools more beautiful."

All projects are being defined according to field visits and surveys.

In all, the noble-goal initiatives which basically depend on volunteers will, hopefully, alleviate the affected families' suffering from the two-year old crisis in the homeland.

Basma Qaddour

University students

I am very sad, I can't write, for the past four days I couldn't write, it was a big shock, not to me only, but to all the people around me, I want to ask those who killed the university students, why you did that??? their mothers were waiting for them, they were preparing lunch for them, they were very proud of them, they wished they could hold their sons or girls, they wished they could tell them how much they loved them, they wished they could understand why you killed them, they wished to say goodbye to their lovely young, yes they were very young to die, what did they do for you, why did you kill them ? I want to cry " why did you kill the students?" they have books not arms, they have future, but oh they have nothing now, God bless them.

Did you see Ahmed in the daily telegraph, the eight-year-old boy on the front line with the terrorists, It is one of the most shocking images from the war on Syria. An eight-year-old boy draws deeply on a cigarette, the small fingers of his other hand clutching a an AK-47 rifle that balances awkwardly against his chest, they want our students to be terrorists, they don't want them to learn, but to stay ignorant, murderers, and villains, who kill each other.

I wish I can see the face of the murderer, is he happy?  It is the act of senseless violence that shocked all Syrian people, and has left us with the unfathomable question :

" Why?" I would like to ask you, for hundred times why you did it, why you took the life of innocent boys and girls away?

You caused us pain, but more suffering to their parents, but I think you are emotionless to understand the feeling of people, have you a mother? Have you a son? Have you a blood in your veins? No I don't think so.

Before the global war on Syria, we were living in peace, we couldn't imagine that there are such persons on this earth, you are such a cruel man, such a bad man, you have no empathy, no emotion, you have nothing except cruelty. I feel pity for you and for your mother, I don't think she knows what you did, but God knows and will not forgive you.

These students were gifted, one day they may become architects, they may have many plans to build Syria, the buildings you have destroyed with your evil friends, who came from other countries just to destroy Syria, I know that it was a very tragic loss for all real Syrians, it is our destiny to suffer, we have to live our lives, and life goes on. We Syrians will stay together, and will take care of each other, we will move on, although your act of cruelty you brought about the premature death of bright students, who already achieved so much and had so much to look forward to in the future, they will not come back, the painful realization that their life was snuffed out for ever, but their spirit will be always around us, to encourage us, suffering cannot crush us, but make us more stronger, instead of looking at obstacles, mishaps, or bad experiences as terrible drawbacks and horrible handicaps, we can use those things to better our own lives and the lives of others.

"The beautiful colors of the rainbow can only be seen through the prism of rain".

Butheina Alnounou

Al-Shammat: Meeting Displaced Families Basic Needs, Priority


DAMASCUS, (ST) - Meeting the basic needs of terrorism-affected families in more than 700 temporary sheltering centers is a top priority of the Higher Relief Committee's policy, Minister of Social Affairs Kinda al-Shammat said on Wednesday, stressing media's important role in explaining the way the committee conveys the assistance to the displaced families in all Syrian provinces.

In a press conference, al-Shammat said that the ministry has put a framework for cooperation between the country's civil society associations and the UN relief organizations acting in Syria, so as these associations draw up a development plan to distribute humanitarian assistance in as many areas as possible based on the branch relief committees' assessment to the requirements of each area. 

She pointed out that these associations should open a bank account especially for the assistance provided by international organizations.

Regarding the financial aid provided by UN Higher Commission for Refugees to the affected families, Minister al-Shammat said the ministry specified the conditions of providing this kind of assistance so as to meet the needs of most affected families based on lists prepared by the Local Administration Ministry in coordination with the governor of each provice.

"The work of the international relief organizations acting in Syria is not up to the expectations," al-Shammat said, pointing out that the ministry plans to implement several programs aiming to provide psychological and social support for families, particularly women and children, staying at temporary shelters and that in this respect, the ministry will sign an agreement with the UNICEF on social and psychological care.

Regarding the financial support provided to civil society associations, al-Shammat said that the ministry last year transferred some (SYP) 120 million to these associations. The money are to be also transferred to branch relief committees in the Syrian provinces according to the needs of each area.

H. Mustafa         

My mother don’t cry, I’m still alive

Mother I didn’t have the time to tell you, how much I loved you, you gave me unconditional love, you gave me all the values I needed, you taught me that our country is more dear than anything in the world, for that when I went to military service, I wasn’t afraid to die, I was defending my country, I was very brave because you taught me that, you always said ( your country is more precious than your life). I’m so glad that you were my mother, that God gave me such good mother, you were always behind me in all I set out to do, teaching me all the morals you have, how to be honest, brave, and true.

Don’t cry mom, I am so happy because my beloved Syria, gave me the honor to be in it’s sanctified soil, because my blood mixed with it’s sand, and I’m asking my God to have mercy on you, and all the Syrian people, they don’t deserve what is happening to them, but God will not forget Syria, because it is an honorable land, and it’s people are very kind, I trust God to drive away these sufferings, and return Syria more better than it was.

I came to you, mom in the mother’s day, to tell you that I’m still alive, I am in heaven and my spirit will be always with you, please mom don’t cry, I want to give you thanks, because you gave me life, you tenderly cared for me and taught me to walk and talk. No one was delighted in my successes more than you, and no one comforted me in my failures, oh mom no one loved me more than you.

 I am praying for you mom, God bless you, I’m asking him to give you strength to bear my absence, and hope when you are discouraged, and love to spread to all the world.

Bless her my God with the graces she needs and you want to give her, help her to feel precious in your eyes today and every day, and to know how much I love her. My God give her strength, courage, compassion and peace.

I love you mom, God bless you.

I love you Syria, God bless you.

Butheina Alnounou

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Syria's Teachers Stress Determination to Carry on Their Message Despite Terrorism

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Teachers in Syria mark their day by stressing  stronger determination to continue their sublime education massage and play their important role in preparing generations to build better future for the homeland.

Despite all the destructive attempts by the narrow-minded terrorists to block the education process in Syria, teachers continue to confront these armed groups' criminal acts by carrying on their national duty of providing knowledge at schools , institutes and universities.

Marking Teachers Day, Education Minister Hazwan al-Waz said that this year Teachers Day has special importance as the homeland is being exposed to a war waged by killers, ignorant and narrow-minded extremists who fight knowledge and science.

"Teachers stand steadfast defending science and education and protecting their schools, students, books and desks," the minister said, pointing out that teachers have lift the banner of education and faced many difficulties even death.

According to Education Ministry statistics, 179 teachers were martyred in terrorist attacks and more than 2445 schools in different governorates were damaged, not to mention the armed groups' crimes of mutilation, kidnapping and terrorizing against more than 300 people working in the education sector with the purpose of blocking the process of science and development in Syria.

On this occasion, the executive Bureau of Teachers' Union issued a statement on Wednesday stressing that Syria's teachers will continue do their duty and convey their message whatsoever in order to prevent Syria's enemies from achieving their schemes which aim at destroying Syria and undermining her role in region.

H. Mustafa  

Cooperation with UN Humanitarian Organizations in Syria Necessary to Alleviate Crisis Repercussions

DAMASCUS, (ST) – Cooperation and Coordination with UN humanitarian organizations acting in Syria is very important, said Deputy Prime Minister for Services Affairs Omar Ibrahim Ghalawanji, commending the relief services provided by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)  to alleviate the suffering of terrorism-affected families.

Ghalawanji's remarks came during his meeting on Monday with Director of the UNICEF's Regional Office for the  Middle East and North Africa Maria Calivis and her accompanying delegation.

The Deputy PM said that within the coming few days, the ministry will sign an agreement with the organization on cooperation in the areas of drinking water and treatment of solid and liquid wastes in temporary housing centers, stressing that government services institutions in all targeted areas are to cooperate in this respect.

Calivic underlined the organization's readiness to provide necessary assistance in accordance with an assessment made for the needs of each area, in order to improve the quality of drinking water, rehabilitate the network and provide technical support for services institutions and administrative units in all areas.

Earlier, Health Minister Sa'd al-Nayef discussed  with Calivic the role of international organizations in helping the Health Ministry provide its services to citizens in all Syrian cities.

Al-Nayef urged international organizations and commissions to shoulder their responsibilities towards rehabilitating the damaged health facilities and ensuring necessary medicine and vaccines, particularly because the health sector was badly affected by the unjust economic sanctions and siege imposed on Syria.

"The ministry cooperates with a number of international and local parties to guarantee the arrival of the medicaments and vaccines to different Syrian areas including those witnessing  events," al-Nayef said.

He pointed out that 52 hospitals affiliated to the health ministry were damaged, 32 of them became completely out of work. He also referred to medicine factories losses and the damage caused to medicine, vaccines and medical equipment convoys.

He called for supplying the ministry with medical stuff that prevents children malnutrition and helps providing care to newly born children, stressing UNICEF's role in this regard.

For her part, Calivic said "the Syrian health sector is still in a good situation despite the critical circumstances and challenges  it is facing," affirming UNICEF's readiness to cooperate with the ministry to provide necessary assistance to Syrian citizens particularly in terrorism-affected areas.

Education Minister Hazwan al-Waz also met with Calivic for talks on cooperation.

"Current cooperation between the Ministry and the organization is very important under the exceptional circumstances Syria is passing through,"  al-Waz said, stressing the necessity of rehabilitating the damaged schools and drawing up a plan to guarantee the return of students to their schools.

He called for holding training courses for the teaching and administrative staff on providing psychological and social support to the students.

The Minister pointed out that the estimated cost of the damage caused to the education sector is more than 59 billion Syrian Pounds as a result of destroying 2445 schools in different governorates in addition to the human losses.

Calivic asserted that the organization in cooperation with the education ministry is implementing programs aiming at guaranteeing the return of students to their schools, pointing out that the organization is now focusing on opening study clubs and providing psychological support to students.  

H. Mustafa