In two cities on the Syrian coast, a group of volunteers from the Focolare Movement is promoting a project that provides nutritious meals for elderly or disadvantaged people and families in need.
“Working in a team made me feel that God is close to us; in addition, this collective commitment has made us one family.” This is what Hazem said about her experience of being involved in the “Lokmat Mahaba” project. In Arabic this means “a morsel of love”. The initiative, promoted by the Focolare Movement and supported with funds from AMU (Action for a United World) Syria Emergency provides support for families in need who are living in the cities of al-Kafroun and Mashta al-Helou, in north-west Syria. Christians of different denominations work together for this project.
“Lokmat Mahaba” operates in a context marked by economic crisis, a very high level of tension and conflict, severe restrictions imposed by the EU and the United States, the depreciation of the Syrian lira and a decrease in life expectancy for the inhabitants in the area. Furthermore, the covid pandemic has exacerbated the already difficult situation. Nonetheless, the small group of volunteers offers help to about twenty families made up of displaced persons and residents who are facing many economic and health challenges. The volunteers offer their time and energy. Some even offer the fruits of their land. Others make a small but significant economic contribution.
They are not the only people who sustain his project. People living in other nearby villages, university lecturers and people who give small donations all play their role. This means that it is possible to prepare and deliver one meal a week to each family. The volunteers take the food to the house just before lunchtime. Referring to these visits, Micheline said, “Those few minutes in which we stand with each family while they share the food help us to enter into their world. The prayers that we listen to and the relationships we are building are the real treasure of the project.” And what a joy it is to participate in the enthusiasm of the children – and of those who have not been children for a long time – who anxiously await that “morsel of love”: “Sharing everyday concerns and being with them as one” keep the enthusiasm and commitment alive in everyone.
The volunteers have said that the strength to carry on this work comes from receiving the Eucharist and from sharing moments of prayer. One year after the start of the project, in September 2019, the group of volunteers and collaborators has grown and Father Gandhi Muhanna, pastor of the Maronite Church, has offered the use of the kitchen in his home for the preparation of meals. It is difficult to prepare healthy and nutritious meals, from good quality ingredients that are often difficult to find, while food prices continue to rise. However, none of the volunteers are backing down from this challenge: the aim is to develop the project, expand the network of co-workers, increase the quality and frequency of meals, but above all reach a growing number of families and people in need and to “use all means possible to share the gifts that each one has received from God.”
Claudia Di Lorenzi
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