"The saddest moment was when three of my colleagues were killed by shelling in Aleppo," says Abdul an aid worker from Syria
Abdul-Rahman is one of People in Need's aid workers in Syria. He started out as a volunteer in his neighbourhood local council in Aleppo city back in 2013. Later that year he joined the People in Need team. He has since worked as an assistant in a number of projects over the last three years. Describing his most recent work as part of the bread team this year, Abdul explains, "I am part of the team in charge of delivering bread to vulnerable people. Previously, we used to provide free bread to beneficiaries and currently we provide 50 percent of the bakeries’ flour and yeast.”
Twenty-five-year-old Abdul describes why he became an aid worker. "I have been committed to humanitarian work for years because it is the most essential thing I can do in the current situation in Syria. Providing help to those in need pushed me towards working in this field," he explains, adding that having a good team of colleagues is essential for him to do his job well.
Abdul has seen a lot over the last 3 years and listens to new stories of beneficiaries every day. "The beneficiaries have so many needs during these times of war. Now, most of all they need shelter, a source of income and of course food, like bread," he states before going on to explain the kind of pressure he and his fellow humanitarian workers are under and the risks they have faced and continue to face in Syria today.
Risking everything for a cause
"The biggest danger we face is indiscriminate airstrike or mortar shelling which can occur anywhere and puts humanitarian workers lives at risk," says Abdul. "The most dangerous and fearful situation I faced was an airstrike that hit just 500 metres from our office in Aleppo city and killed many civilians," he recalls.
Abdul has experienced great pride and happiness alongside great sadness in his work. "The saddest and most painful moment, which I will never forget, was when three of my colleagues were killed by shelling in eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo while they were distributing free bread," he says. Time and again in this conflict, we have seen humanitarian workers lose their lives whilst distributing or transporting aid. In this war there has been no distinction between fighter and civilian. Abdul continues, “On the other hand the most joyful moments I have experienced are when those most in need whom we help, pray for us and wish us the best. It motivates me."
I hope this war will not last forever
Despite all the personal challenges, Abdul sees many advantages to being an aid worker. "When you provide aid and support to those affected by the crisis it is something vital and you feel you are doing very noble things." Describing going to work each day, he says: "I like my current job because by supporting bakeries we will reduce the cost of bread and food items for people and will alleviate their suffering and financial burden. Thousands of families and internally displaced people benefit from our bread project."
Nevertheless, Abdul is fully aware that humanitarian aid only eases people’s suffering during times of conflict and cannot provide a cure or long-term solution. However, in his exhaustion, there is still hope. "I hope this war will not go on forever. I hope the will of the people prevails and they will get their freedom and dignity and will be able to live in peace again."
Sari Haj Jneid, PIN Syria Communication Officer
Petr Stefan, PIN Communication Officer