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Praying with Refugees in the Middle East: the resilience of mothers
Thursday, May 15, 2014

Many Syrian mothers have undertaken long and difficult journeys to bring their children to safety such as this woman with her two children, who now attend the Jesuit Refugee Service school in Kafar Zabad, Lebanon (Zerene Haddad/Jesuit Refugee Service).
I don't want my children to die here, I'd rather we live in squalor; at least they're safe.
Damascus, 16 May 2014 – For years mothers in Syria have suffered; many have been displaced, losing their homes, their husbands, and for some, their children. Mothers often have to decide whether to leave other children behind in order to take a wounded child to gain access medical assistance, or to safety across a border.

It is estimated that half of the Syrian population are children, and they are the most affected by the war. All of Syria's mothers have had to take extraordinary measures to protect their children's lives.

Women have become household heads, providing food, shelter and education for their children in a society where this is not the norm. Many have to do so with little or no formal education.

Women we speak to say they left Syria because they couldn't bear to put their children through the terror of bombs, shelling and snipers.

"I don't want my children to die here, I'd rather we live in squalor; at least they're safe", says Fatima* a mother of five children, now living in Lebanon.

In Irbid, Jordan the Jesuit Refugee Service established a mother-child centre for Syrian refugee families. This is a space where as women and mothers they can recover dignity, but also develop skills and coping mechanisms to deal with the difficulties and trauma they have faced.

"The goal of the life-skills class is also to help the mothers trying to raise children in very difficult circumstances. We support the mothers to guide their children's development, both in their schoolwork and interpersonal relationships. I'm deeply touched by the journeys these women took to bring their families to safety across the Syrian-Jordanian border", said Tamim Arif, acting JRS Jordan Director.

*Names have been changed for reasons of security

Reflections for Prayer
Mary, the mother of Christ endured many difficulties as a woman and a mother. However she is a beacon of hope and peace, a protector of children, and the epitome of a mother's silent suffering for the sake of her children.

We ask Mary to intercede for peace in Syria, and other war-torn areas of the world.

Zerene Haddad, JRS Middle East Communications Officer

Suggested Reading for Prayer
John 19: 25 – 27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."

Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.