Bishop of Stepney loads up supplies for children in Syrian refugee camp
PUBLISHED: 11:30 19 March 2013 | UPDATED: 11:30 19 March 2013
An operation to supply desperately-needed education supplies for children in a refugee camp in war-torn Syria has left London’s East End on its mercy mission.
The Bishop of Stepney joined other church volunteers to load up a van at Spitalfields which is now on its way with 1,000 school bags containing notebooks, pencils, crayons and other basic classroom needs for youngsters in a makeshift school.
The van is on its way to Turkey and the temporary Atmeh camp just inside the Syrian border, following a fact-finding visit there earlier this year by the Bishop’s wife Gill Newman.
“I wanted to do something practical to help the children in the camp,” Gill explained.
“Their education has been totally disrupted—but I found a teacher running a makeshift school desperate for even basics like pencils and paper who asked me for help.”
She launched a ‘book bag’ appeal through the charity Hand in Hand for Syria when she returned. Volunteers including her husband, The Rt Rev Adrian Newman, and the Dean of Tower Hamlets and Rector of Spitalfields, The Rev Andy Rider, packed boxes filled with the book bags and loaded them up.
The Dean’s wife, Carol Rider, who went with Gill to Syria, said: “Even if the fighting ends tomorrow, the children can’t go back to their homes which have been devastated. Their lives have been totally disrupted.”
Gill Newman has organised a public awareness event on Monday in which Times correspondent Martin Fletcher, who she met in Syria, explains the situation. Also speaking is Paul Conroy, the freelance photographer injured in Homs a year ago while he was with Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin who was killed. Monday’s event is at 6.30pm at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street.