It’s 2015. There are nearly 8 million Syrian children in need of humanitarian assistance; 5.5 million of them within Syria. Four years into a gruelling war and it would not be an exaggeration to say that most of these children have lost at least one family member. From our own investigations and research with various agencies on the ground, there are an estimated 600,000 orphans inside Syria; a grim statistic, which is in all likelihood an underestimation. All this points to the stark reality of a lost generation traumatised by unremitting war, with barely any opportunities for education, a collapsed healthcare infrastructure, and more crucially, the loss of family security from the absence of parents who became casualties of the war.

For a while now SKT Welfare has been assessing this dire situation, contemplating what can be done to help these forgotten children. Alongside huge numbers of orphans, there has emerged a strata of single-parent families – primarily widows – left to look after children, with no breadwinner to cater for their needs. Many of these widows have fled Syria to find themselves refugees in alien countries, whose language they don’t speak, and where their access to resources is severely limited. Add to this the sharp rise in abandoned children due to the inability of a surviving parent to care for them – often because of the deep psychological trauma resulting from the scars of war – and one can quickly come to appreciate the hardships such women and children are enduring.

Consequently, following extensive feasibility studies carried out by our trustees, SKT Welfare has embarked upon a ground-breaking new project for 2015: a Family Centre to house widows, orphans, and single-parent families.

Construction has already begun and the final building will comprise six storeys.

The vision is to provide the most holistic form of care and support possible. The centre will consist of a school with purpose-built classrooms for the children it will house, self-contained lodgings for the mothers and children, a canteen, prayer facilities and play areas. It will have capacity for up to 75 mothers or carers, and 215 children. SKT Welfare will provide food, clothing and education to all the families and children, and will create employment opportunities within the school. Training will be provided for all the mothers, designed to empower them to obtain a livelihood, thereby reducing dependencies and affording them the dignity of becoming self-sufficient.

The centre is based in Reyhanli, a small Turkish town near the border with Syria, which is already home to thousands of Syrian refugees; many of whom are living in appalling conditions, such as abandoned incomplete houses, shelters and tents. The centre is being built according to our specifications, with careful planning and due consideration being given to the requirements of a family centre. A team of staff, skilled and experienced in running such an establishment has already been identified and they are heavily involved in the latter stages of planning and development.

The Al-Huda hospital has been a huge success, continuing to offer an amazing level of service to the vast area it serves. We believe that the family centre is an equally, if not more, necessary project. It’s about preserving the wellbeing of the future generations of Syria. Empowering them with a sense of belonging and security, albeit in the absence of their loved ones. Establishing this centre will be one of the most rewarding projects the charity has ever undertaken, and we hope you will join us on this journey as its success depends on your generosity.

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