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Children’s Shelter Now Offers Refuge To All

Photo Credit: Carole Alfarah

Established two generations ago in Syria to support children who had lost their parents, SOS Children’s Villages is now providing for far more displaced Syrians than its founders ever anticipated–6,700 in 2012, mostly mothers and children, with that number expected to more than double next year. During Ramadan alone, the SOS team distributed 60,000 meals in Damascus and Aleppo, and 1,500 in Dera’a.

Meanwhile, though it has come under regular fire, SOS’ Damascus village continues to sustain 180 displaced families with basic staples, as well as children evacuated from its Aleppo village, with resident children receiving training in emergency response and first aid.

SOS is also helping 16,000 children go back to school this year, by assisting them with everything from registration to school fees and supplies. Since nearly a fifth of Syrian schools have been either damaged or turned into makeshift shelters, many schools are now offering night shifts to accommodate all the students who want to attend.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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