By Megan Radford
with files from Josephine Haddad
Recently I came across some World Vision
photos from Aleppo, Syria in 2000. In the
fuzzy images children are happily singing
in their church choir, studying at their
desks, and interacting with their teachers
Those photos haunt me. In 2000, I was
a 13-year-old doing those same things.
The young people in the photos have
grown up just like me, but where are they
now? Have they fled their home as bombs
drop daily? What has become of their
classrooms and their church? Do they
have families to protect now?
It has been six years since the Syrian
conflict broke out. While I have finished
university, started my career, and gotten
married, the lives of millions have been
Lives like Ahmad, the oldest boy in
his family. “I had a daily thought, every
morning, that this day would be our last
day alive,” he remembers. Even when his
family fled Syria in 2013, Ahmad could not
rid himself of that fear.
Finally, Ahmad’s mother learned of World
Vision’s Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS).
There, children aged six to 12 are provided
with fun activities, and psychosocial
support to cope with the trauma they have
Ahmad and his three siblings enrolled.
Ahmad discovered that he loved to draw.
“I never had a hobby before,” he says.
Now, although Ahmad still practises his
drawing every day, and says it takes his
mind off his family’s precarious situation.
“People [at the CFS] tried to help us
forget the brutality of the war, and they
Ahmad was able to enjoy his childhood
again because of the support of Raw
Hope donors. Through Raw Hope you
can provide things like food, shelter, water
and protection for children in dangerous
places. Please help us continue our care
Visit www.RawHope.ca to learn more.
Post-abortion support grows
A new resource tries to help women and men recover
Vancouver elementary school considers
innovative school design
A CANADIAN MINISTRY has launched
GraceStream ( www.GraceStream.ca), a post-
abortion support ministry to fill a gap they
see in post-abortion care. SCA International
( www.SCAInternational.org) provides free
video documentaries about abortion’s
physical and emotional consequences, and
helps connect women with other resources,
like pregnancy care centres or churches, to
help them recover and heal.
Suggesting abortion may have negative
physical or emotional consequences isn’t
popular, says Ken Godevenos, president of SCA
International. Godevenos also practises family
counselling and has witnessed trauma in women
from past abortions. Not everyone believes
abortion can cause anxiety or guilt, so these
feelings aren’t often taken seriously, he says.
God “wants to meet and fill the gaps that
may have been created in your life by that
decision that you made (to have an abortion),
or was made for you,” he says.
Resources to help people heal after
abortions are scarce. Godevenos says SCA’s
board could not find a similar ministry
specifically dedicated to post-abortive care,
and notes Christians may struggle to tell their
pastors and churches about their abortions.
A CHRISTIAN ELEMENTARY school in
Vancouver proposes building a new school
that would include seniors’ units on top.
“The plan is more of a vision, a dream,”
Jack Ong of the St. Mary’s building
committee says. “We are taking steps to try
to allow ourselves to potentially fulfill the
vision. There are lots of moving pieces and
many various levels of approvals we need.”
The parish is evangelical Catholic and
the school is home to about 200 children
as well as a central meeting place for the
various ministries of the church. During a
presentation to city council, Ong says they
needed a new building as their current
school is too old and at risk of being unsafe.
“We find ourselves in this process
because we have an elementary school that
has been assessed and found to be at high
risk of failure in a major seismic event.
“In order to keep the children in our care
safe, we feel we have to rebuild the school,
as a retrofit would cost several million
dollars without any improvement in
ventilation, classroom size, technology
support or any other measure of service
delivery.” The price tag on the project is $18
million and they have been raising about
$400,000 per year.
The concept of residential housing
on top of schools is not a new one for
Vancouver, which has been working on
Cross Town Elementary, which is tucked into
residential developments. However, there is
a difference between the two projects.
“Our concept of putting seniors’
residences on top of a school, with separate
entrances of course, is novel and could have
lots of benefits both for the seniors and for
the kids,” Ong says. The idea was developed
to ensure adequate housing for seniors
already living in the area.
“It allowed for non-displacement of the
kids and the seniors in the overall plan,”
Ong says, explaining an apartment unit
already on the land would need to be
removed for the new school to go ahead.
Ong says they were not expecting to break
ground before 2018. –CHANDRA PHILIP