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Families come together at one of the JRS centers in Damascus as a way of providing some measure of psychosocial support to each other. (Zerene Haddad/Jesuit Refugee Service)

(Beirut) May 5, 2013 — The opportunity for a moment of peace and quiet has all but vanished in Damascus. As violence in the 4,000 year-old city escalates, accompanied by acute shortages of daily commodities, it becomes harder to enjoy the simple things in life, much less a family meal.

Conscious of this, the Jesuit Refugee Service Damascus team organizes 'family mornings' twice a month at St Albert Hurtado House in Bab Touma neighborhood.

"There is a chance for families to make more meaningful contact together and to have a tranquil place for a few hours,"  said Fouad Nakhla S.J., JRS Project Director in Damascus.

About eight or ten displaced families, from Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Congo, are invited to spend a few hours together. They are all unable to leave Syria, for one reason or another. They have a chance to interact with one another in a quiet, safe space. Games are organized for their children by volunteers, and the families prepare and eat a simple meal together.

"It's the breaking of bread together, which is an intrinsic part of our culture. Sharing a meal together is something that everyone can relate to and find solace in," said Fr Nakhla.

Nada (not here real name) a volunteer who helps out at the JRS family mornings, was deeply moved by the families' joy in spite of all they have suffered — the homes, memories, loved ones and hopes they have lost.

They're still together as families, and have the will of life to help each other overcome these difficulties. In this house [St Albert Hurtado House] we live, for a moment, the image of what we dream the future in Syria could be," said Nada.

by Zerene Haddad, Middle East and North Africa Communications Officer

JRS teams in Damascus also provide emergency relief, educational and psychosocial activities to more than 1,000 displaced families in the capital city and the surrounding areas. Support the work of JRS in Syria here.


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