‘You Made Me Feel Human Again.’ Repairing Homes (And More) in Aleppo

“I wish you were here, so I could tell you about my misery.”

Noura’s pain was clear when we checked in with her over the phone. It’s hard to keep up a brave front when you’re exhausted.

“My mother is really tired and extremely sick,” she said. “We have been going from one hospital to another without being able to afford it. We also have a nurse coming over to give her shots whenever we can provide them.”

Noura takes care of her elderly mother and children in their neighborhood in eastern Aleppo. Constant bombing and the lack of food drove their family out in 2014. After the four-year battle for Aleppo came to a decisive and deadly end this time last year, Noura and her husband returned to their neighborhood.

“I came back home to find everything burned, destroyed, and broken. I found nothing in my house, not even doors and windows. Some walls are down, too, and the water taps don’t work.”

Windows in Noura’s home, before it was repaired. Only one pane of glass survived the bombing.

Noura’s family, including her 83-year-old bedridden mother, suffered through the cold of last winter without proper shelter. When we met them earlier this year, Noura told us, “We urgently need our house fixed. We cannot spend another winter like the past one. My mother complains that her heart hurts so much with the freezing wind blowing through the house.”

“I came back home to find everything burned, destroyed, and broken. I found nothing in my house, not even doors and windows.”

Until recently, Noura’s family lived in the shell of what used to be their home. The house still had walls and a roof, but little else. In the window shown above, only a single pane of glass survived the incessant blasts.

Living in primitive conditions, not being able to give your mother the care she needs—well, it wears you down. This kind of living can make you feel less than human.

Noura with her ailing mother in Aleppo

Noura’s family in Aleppo needed a secure home, and you made that happen.

Over the last several months, you’ve sent a group of Syrian tradesmen on a mission: take 52 homes in a bombed-out Aleppo neighborhood and make them livable again.

Noura’s home was included in this pilot project. We wanted to see what kind of impact we could have by making basic home repairs for families in need.

Noura’s home home received the repairs it needed to make it ready for winter. The windows were replaced and new doors installed. She has working faucets again, so she can cook and her family can keep clean.

Noura’s house isn’t a mere shell anymore—it’s looking more like the home that made her family happy before the war.

“Thank you for closing the holes in my house and installing doors and windows and faucets,” she said. “All the promised repairs have been completed in my house, and I am satisfied with the work.”

Noura still has the difficult job of caring for her mother in much the same way her mother used to care for her—but in extremely difficult circumstances.

“I feel embarrassed,” Noura tells us, “but I have to ask you for milk, diapers, medicine… in order to be able to take care of my mother.” Noura and one of her sons have health struggles of their own, too.

Life isn’t suddenly perfect for Noura, now that her home is repaired. But now she can close and lock her windows and doors. She can bathe in privacy. She turn on a light at night—things we normally take for granted. She has a secure home base for rebuilding her life.

Noura hopes her husband can get back to work selling vegetables to support the family. She hopes for healing and comfort for her son, her mother, and herself. She hopes for happier days ahead with financial stability and a reconnected family.

“I wish that others get the kind of help I did. You gave me the opportunity to close my door—to even have one. You made me feel human again.”

When years of war wore Noura down, you stepped in. And today you have the ability make her wish come true for more families in Aleppo.

One year after the battle for Aleppo, many families still need help returning home. They need homes that are safe to return to. They need walls and windows and doors. They need shelter that will last—a place where they can put the rest of the pieces of their lives back together.

One year ago, you stood with Aleppo families as they fled the unimaginable. This Christmas, stand with them as they return home.


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