Sunday, January 26, 2014

One Woman's Courage: Time4Life reaches out to Syrian refugees

I met Elisa at a wedding in Rome, and we shared a taxi back to our hotels in the early hours of the morning. As the taxi hurtled across town through the nearly empty streets, Elisa told me her story. Given the fact that it had been a long day, and it was nearing 2 a.m., I don't remember all the details of that conversation. But I clearly remember the passion and commitment that Elisa embodied, and her story has haunted me ever since. I've pieced together information from several sources to share that story here.

Elisa carrying supplies to children in Syria
"A week ago, a child of two months died in my arms. He had a temperature of 94 degrees. He was drenched: his hair and feet were soaked with water." Elisa Fangareggi coughs and tells the story of an ordinary death in the refugee camp in Syria Azzaz. During her last visit to bring medicine and milk powder to the displaced, she contracted pneumonia. But in the words of this 32-year-old attorney from Modena, there is no trace of heroism. Only the concern and indignation of a mother of three girls, determined not to surrender to the horrors of a war that is stealing games, family and the lives of thousands of young Syrians."  Franca Roiatti  (translated from the Italian by blog author)

Elisa with Syrian children helped by Time4Life
At first glance, you would not guess that Elisa would be the type to frequently undertake dangerous missions to deliver medical supplies to children in Syria, victims of the war that is being waged around them. After becoming aware of the situation and the need, Elisa took a leave of absence from her job as a civil lawyer and with the support of her husband (also a lawyer) and three young daughters, she founded a volunteer organization, Time4Life, that is devoted to helping these children. She told me that her role as a mother compelled her to DO something, to be active in  making a difference. She now makes twice-monthly trips to Syria, to deliver in person the medical supplies and food that are necessary for survival.

Elisa surrounded by donated medical supplies.
David Bianchini, a writer for Modena Online, wrote this about Elisa's work: "A courageous mother returned to Modena after delivering 400 pounds of milk powder and medicines to 200 Syrian children in the refugee camps on the border with Turkey. It is a dangerous experience in the midst of civil war, and it comes with death threats, but also many thanks from the population. Elisa Fangareggi, civil lawyer and mother of three children, is not afraid. Together the friends and activists of the association Time4Life continues its good work." (translated from the Italian by blog author) 
The Time4Life mission:
"There are 4 million displaced people in Syria because of the civil war. One cannot count the victims of hunger and poor sanitation in camps where they are lacking food, medicine, clothing, and health care. Those most at risk, as always, are the children. We organize periodic mailings, staff and aid in refugee camps in Syria, delivering directly into the hands of Syrian families powdered milk, medicines and money donated to our collection centers throughout Italy. With the support of specialized volunteers, in addition, we set up medical clinics and dental clinics in the camps to provide assistance to children and their families." (translated from the Italian by blog author)

The Time4Life website is in Italian, but donations can be made internationally on the site through Paypal. I urge you to consider supporting this mission, and make a difference, as Elisa and her fellow volunteers continue to do every day.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping to publicize this effort. The rest of us can at least make a donation!

marybeth said...

Figurati! Yes, I don't have the moral courage to do as Elisa has, but at least we can support her efforts with our donations.