Photo: Refugee girls coloring princesses in a makeshift refugee camp in West Asia
In March 2011, in the midst of the Arab Spring, peaceful protests across Syria erupted into violent conflict, and later that year escalated into a brutal civil war.
As of September 2017, Syria remains engulfed in conflict with no end in sight. Governments and militaries from across Western Asia, and the world, have become embroiled in the ordeal. In the midst of the carnage, multitudes have been devastated by the disaster. The statistics are stunning:
The UNHCR identified Syria as, “…the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time, a continuing cause of suffering for millions…” The war is setting the Syrian people back an entire generation as families struggle to survive, and children grow up without education.
Despite the tremendous challenges, new opportunities to serve forcibly displaced people are providing hope. Some non-governmental organizations are being offered expanded privileges to provide job support for refugees. Several religious organizations in Europe are partnering with governments to create “Humanitarian Corridors”, expedited pathways for resettlement for an increasing number of families. New initiatives through IAFR are creating education and livelihood development opportunities for refugee families.
The Syrian crisis is an unprecedented tragedy, but with it comes the opportunity to serve “the least of these” with the same love that Jesus shared with mankind. We thank God for the opportunities we’ve been given, and consider our team privileged to be working in this effort.
More information: UNHCR
In a small village in Western Asia, IAFR has partnered with an American agro-tech company in a first-of-its-kind farming facility using high-tech methods to produce traditional crops for the local economy and refugee community.
The technology is called aquaponics, which gets it name from combining the separate disciplines of hydroponics and aquaculture. Essentially, the method raises fish in a controlled environment to create nutrient rich fertilizer, which provides plant food for a soilless farming system. Aquaponics is a sustainable and chemical free form of agriculture that uses 90% less water than traditional methods to produce very high quality fish and produce.
The project began in April 2017, and has provided employment and directly impacted the lives of several refugee families. The jobs provide fair wages, good working conditions and opportunity for personal, professional and spiritual growth. If successful, the project will be expanded into other communities. Looking ahead, it could even serve as a blueprint for new initiatives across Western Asia, Africa and anywhere else traditional agriculture methods fall short, and where forcibly displaced people need jobs and healthy food.
Regardless of the culture, the dinner table is a place for family, fellowship and most of all, great food. Everyone knows that food is the heartbeat of culture, and whenever we meet people along the Refugee Highway one of the first things we do together is eat.
My Ethnic Table is a project designed to engage women where they spend the majority of their day… the kitchen.
The goal of the project is to provide an opportunity for the world and refugees to connect with each other through the medium of food. We spend time with women, hearing their stories and learning to prepare cuisine unique to their homeland. Those encounters are captured in writing and photos, with the aim of producing a very unique book that elevates the status of refugee women by sharing their heart stories and cooking secrets with home chefs around the world.
Refugee women have a voice, and it comes through loud and clear in the amazing cuisine they create. We can’t wait to share those messages with the world.