In Syria, many women have been left behind - here's how your gifts and prayers are supporting them.
Every single day, a young Christian mum, Elham, waits in a long queue in her hometown, Aleppo, to buy the little bread she's entitled to with her quota. Then, she joins another queue, to buy fuel to cook for her little children, as they get only two hours of electricity a day. Next, Elham needs to carry the gasoline cylinder, weighing 40 kilograms, to her home, all alone.
That is a typical daily life episode of Syria's women who have been left behind by their husbands who either died in the civil war or fled the country for a better life, without them, and never came back. Every day they queue for hours for food and wondering where next they can move after they are evicted, because they cannot pay the rent.
How do Elham and other Christian single mothers survive in a country devastated by the 10-year war? The very limited support that the Syrian government provides goes to only those women whose husbands died in the war fighting for the Syrian Armed Forces.
For those who do not receive it, life is a daily challenge, explains Nour, a local Open Doors partner, based in Aleppo. The main source of support for Christian women is the church in Syria, which provides the essentials for their survival, she says.
"There are many internally displaced women in Syria at the moment. They had to run to safer places during the war and every time they had to start all over again, often on their own with no support," says Nour. "Especially those who came to Aleppo from the north, they arrived just with only the clothes they were wearing, nothing else."
"These women have nothing of what they used to have." Nour, Open Doors partner
Some of the men, Nour explains, fled Syria because of refusing to fight for the government forces when the civil war started in March 2011. Many of them sold their properties to fund their escape to safer countries which left their families homeless, with the promise that they would eventually reunite. Their wives had to fend for themselves.
With no man in the family, single mothers have accepted the reality of being the breadwinner. If they do any job, the typical monthly salary is around £40 and 20 per cent of it is spent on bread alone.
"With high inflation, everything is so expensive. Some women are not able to wait in the long queues for hours because they need to look after their children, and so they have to buy fuel, for example, from the black market and it's very, very expensive," says Nour.
Thanks to your thoughts and prayers, Open Doors' local partners reach out to these 'left behind' Christian women with food, clothes, furniture, rental fees as well as vocational training for them to be able to find a job and sustain themselves in the long-term future.
"These women have nothing of what they used to have," Nour says. "Our main focus is how to equip them to become independent and build their future for themselves and their children."
A version of this article previously appeared on Christian Today.
Every £25 could mean a persecuted woman receives visits from Open Doors partners, to help encourage and strengthen her in her faith
Every £30 could provide ten women with discipleship through social media
Every £56 could help provide a safe space for women to meet and receive extensive spiritual support and training
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.