Update on #Syria, from Rita

Greetings to all fellow travelers that have traveled to Syria with Caravan-Serai Tours.
I have been getting emails from people asking about their guide and my family in Syria that they visited when they traveled with us.  First, I want to thank you all for your thoughtfulness, and let you know that as of today everyone is fine.
I talk to my relatives and also to the office and staff in Syria about two or three times a week to see how they are doing.  It is very hard to say things on the phone but we have developed a sort of code so we know a bit of what is happening. 
As some of you know I lived in Syria from 1972 till 1982 during the time of the civil war we had with Hafez Assad.  During that time there was no such thing as social media, cell phones, etc.  Things were taking place, people were being killed regularly and the massacre of Hama took place and over 10,000 people were killed.  I was living and working in Aleppo at that time.  The only way that we knew that this had happened was people streaming into the city late at night to take refugee in people’s homes and running from the government. The airports were closed and the roads in and out of the major cities were closed off.  The only communication we had at that time was land lines and information from the bus and taxi drivers.  I saw more violence during those 10 years than I though imaginable.
When I came to the states for a visit and mentioned what was happening people did not believe me since there were no reports from the media.  Things are so different now and we are able to get the information out so people in the world know what a violent regime this is.
Most of the fighting that has been taking place has been in Hama, Homs, Idlib, Deraa and some areas on the outskirts of Damascus.  That changed in the last few days with the bombing in Aleppo.
If any of you were on trips where I was leading and took you to my aunt’s home in Aleppo – then you will know that is the area that was bombed. I talked to the family and they are fine and will be staying in their homes and not leaving.  They have food and supplies to keep them going for a while, which is better then the area of Hama and Homs where they have run out of food and medicine.
We have been getting things in to Syria through Jordan. People flying into Amman have taken medical supplies, and funds since banking and all business has pretty much stopped.  We are not able to wire any money in because of the sanctions.  The problem is the sanctions are hurting the people and not the regime.
We have a non profit that has been set up for quite awhile, and we have been able to help different countries in the region in the past year.  If you would like to make a contribution to help, you can send a check to the AACC- Arab American Community Coalition, which is a 501c3 and registered since 2001 in Washington State.  Mail to the office address (3806 Whitman Ave. N, Seattle WA 98103) and if you have any questions drop us an email and I will answer as best as I can.
Thank you for your prayers and thoughts about the people that you met in Syria, and across the region, during this turbulent time. 
~Rita
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