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Winter Needs, Flood Recovery, Hand-Knit Hats Distro, And More – Winter 2024 Update

It’s been a mild but very wet and rainy winter so far out here in the Middle East, but we are thankful that the Lord has given many opportunities to serve in the midst of it!

From meeting winter needs for heaters, fuel and blankets, to helping several families recover from a flood, and balancing that with the ongoing medical needs always pressing in on us, the days have been full.

The war in this region continues on. Fighting along the border occasionally intensifies, but the war here mostly stays deep down south. Jets are often heard flying overhead, off to hit some distant target, but in the mountains it is mostly life as usual for locals and refugees alike.

This update will seek to cover some of the different relief and compassion help conducted in the past couple months, including:

Flood Recovery For Affected Refugee Families

The rain storms this winter have been fierce and heavy when they come. The damaged infrastructure and almost non-existent drainage systems in the mountains can’t handle torrential downpours well. One of the larger refugee family groupings we know found this out the hard way and got completely flooded out. Their story is just one example of the many challenges the refugees face here living on the margins of society.

Several refugee families we know live in a large, run-down, century-old former government barracks building that is on a side slope of the mountain. The torrential rains one night turned into a waterfall that formed a new drainage path down the mountain right up to the side of the building. The water pooled until breaking through the windows and pouring in (such as in the picture posted here).

They got their kids out, but everything they owned was drenched in a torrent of mud and rain water. Clothes, bed mats, school books, dishes, electronics, etc… Some things could be salvaged, many things could not.

One of the deliveries of bed mats and blankets to those living in the building.

They contacted us about this flood, and our team was able to begin to get involved helping them with new (dry) bed mats, blankets, food, fuel to warm themselves, new kids clothes and school book replacements.

We also helped them to repair the damaged walls and rooms where the water came in and build a concrete-reinforced barrier up-stream to divert the water flow from their building to a vacant lot nearby. We had two more major rainstorms after the repairs, and I am happy to report that further floods were deterred!

The family was very thankful for the help. It opened new doors into this household that we’ve known for years. Pray for the Lord to use the compassion done in His name as a means to accomplish eternal good in their souls.

Distributing Heaters, Fuel, Blankets And Kids Clothes

With a milder winter this year we were able to get many new heaters out to families in advance of the coldest periods. With new heaters usually costing $70-$100 a piece, this is often several weeks or more of what a typical refugee would earn. Given that government electricity only comes around 1-2 hours a day, these wood or diesel fuel heaters are about the only way to stay warm in winter.

We’ve also begun our broader distribution of heating fuel to refugee and poor local families in the mountains. We’ve given out either heating fuel or bags of wood to hundreds of families in the past month, with priority for extra fuel going to those with small children to help avoid sickness from the damp cold. As of today we have probably given out a little over 1,000 gallons (approx 3,800 L) of heating fuel.

We were also able to partner with a local clothing shop to get a couple hundred pounds of thick winter blankets, kids winter jackets, boots and other cold weather gear for dozens of refugee families with small children. Due to limited resources, we focused on families with children age 5 and younger, as these younger kids are more susceptible to sickness in the cold and damp weather here in the mountains.

Hand-Made Winter Hats & Items Made By Refugees For The Refugees

A table filled with winter hats and other items made by women involved in the TGI sewing project.

Last year we began to refocus the refugee women’s sewing program to focus on items useful for winter. This includes fleece and hand-knit hats for kids and knit baby blanket sacks. The ladies worked all summer and fall to make hundreds of items to give out to refugee families this winter. These included hand-knit hats, baby blanket sacks, sewn fleece hats, and nursing covers for women with babies. We distributed these items throughout the winter at our annual winter kids program and also several times during aid distributions from the ministry center.

There was a great demand for winter hats, much more than we had expected. The hand-knit hats were the first items taken by mothers for their children. The fleece hats were also very popular with the kids due to some cute bunny/bear ears the women sewed into the top seams.

We were thankful to see that items made by our own trained locals and refugee women could prove to be a blessing to help other refugees this winter. It not only provided much-needed work for the women who were sewing and knitting, but also much-needed winter gear to give out to help keep hundreds of kids warm this winter too!

 Handling Winter Medical Needs And Heater Burns

We do not seem to have a winter go by without treating serious burns from the all-metal heaters used to keep warm in the mountains. This winter was no exception. A local refugee man we know was badly burned when a heater flared up after someone added fuel to it. His clothes burned on to his skin, burning his arms, leg and face. His legs were especially bad. We were able to help clean and treat his burns, with several visits over the weeks to change bandages and follow up. Eventually his daughter learned how to change the bandages with our help, and he steadily improved to where he could return to work once again.

We’ve had a busy case load of medical needs these past months. Eye surgeries to restore vision, a surgical intervention to help a woman stop incessant blood loss, an elderly woman suffering from a stroke and developing necrotic tissue from an un-healed wound needing debridement surgery and more.

In addition to that are the dozens of clinic runs, lab tests and doctor visits for the sick refugees who come to us for help, as well as the roughly 100+ different prescriptions our team fills every month to help people, with each patient prescription usually requiring multiple medications. It’s been a busy and sick winter so far, but we’re thankful for the Lord’s continued provision to be able to help the sick out here!

Thank You For Reading, Praying & Helping!

If you made it this far, thank you for reading this update and continuing to take an interest in the labors out here for the Lord! Our goal is not just to help with physical needs, but spiritual as well. We are thankful the Lord continues to raise up people to pray for these spiritual needs amongst the vast numbers of refugees living in a dark place. A big thank you as well to those who have helped in others ways these past months. Without the provision the Lord provides through those who give, this help would not be possible to pass on to those in need out here in the Middle East.

If you wish to be involved in any way, you can support TGI via our site, sign up for our relief updates e-mail newsletter to better know how to pray, or contact us if you are interested in knowing more about how to be personally involved.

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