Greater Ballinasloe Syrian Refugee Appeal

July 2022 Update

During November and December 2021, thanks to the generosity of many women and men in the greater Ballinasloe area and of family and friends further afield, members of our network raised €15,208.00 to help Syrian Refugees living in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon.

Trócaire kindly added an additional €34,792.00 to this amount bringing the total that was forwarded to Sawa for Development and Aid, a Lebanesse charity that has been working with Syrian Refugees in the Beqaa region, one of the most vulnerable areas in Lebanon, to €50.000.00.

More recently Trócaire and SAWA kindly forwarded a report on how this contribution of €50,000.00 was spent between January and March 2022.

To download and read the report please click this Report Icon.

Trócaire-SAWA Report 2022

The report reveals that between January and March 2022 inclusive:

  • 385 families were supported in acquiring winter clothing
  • 322 sheets of Tarpaulin were purchased and used to construct, reconstruct and repair tents
  • 515 planks of wood were purchased and used to replace and repair tents damaged by storms, heavy snowfall and other inclement weather conditions.

The report contains many photographs, a stark reminder of the incredible vulnerability of the Syrian Refugees, some now resident in the camps for twelve years.

Looking Ahead

There is much goodwill toward our Syrian brothers and sisters in the Beqaa Valley in the Greater Ballinasloe area and thanks to the members of our Fundraisng committee (named below) for harnessing this in 2020 and 2021.

A meeting with be convened in September to establish whether a new committee is willing to form to take this work forward in 2022 / 2023.

Details will be posted here and communicated through Parish Newsletters once they become known.

Updated: 30th July 2022

2021 Introduction

Earlier this year, arising from our 2020 fundraising effort, 160 Syrian Refugee families living in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon each received three blankets and three mattresses. Each mattress cost €13.40 and each blanket €7.60 and related delivery and administrative charges came to €2,186.00, much of it paid to refugees on the bread-line in the camps.

Our effort brought great joy … not least because it communicated to hard pressed families that they were not forgotten.

Those of us who served on the fundraising committee were quite humbled by the experience. Firstly, we had not anticipated the very generous response of so many friends and neighbours. Secondly, while the importance of blankets had registered with us (last year this campaign was called the Greater Ballinasloe Syrian Refugee Winter Blanket Appeal) we had not considered the importance of mattresses to health and wellbeing for the 320,000 refugees in the Bekaa Valley, many of whom still live in tents.

2021 Appeal

We are keen to continue our support of SAWA, a Lebanese grassroots organisation working with refugees in the Bekaa Valley, through Trócaire. Each year they consult refugee families regarding what they need. Sadly, many families are still along way from seeking support with their children’s educational needs. Survival remains the priority.

Our target this year is to contribute in some small but meaningful way to the wellbeing of 100 more refugee families in the Bekaa Valley. We appreciate these are difficult days financially for many people here in Ireland but if you are in a position to contribute €5 or more we invite you to avail of one of three options:


  • Debit or credit card or PayPal (see below).
    All donations were (and remain) secure and will be acknowledged by email unless contributed anonymously. Donations via PayPal will be acknowledged in the name of ‘The Knights of St. Columbanus’. See Acknowledgement at the end of this webpage for explanation.
  • Lodge to ‘Syrian Refugee Appeal A/c’ Account No. 31997, Ballinasloe Credit Union.
  • Give your donation to any of this year’s Fundraising Committee (see below).

Donations to Greater Ballinasloe Syrian Refugee Appeal 2021

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Donation Total: €5.00


The names and contact details of this year’s committee are:

Paul Casserly,
086 2056057.

Tom Corbett,
087 2211989.

Michéal Cregg,
086 2618152

Fiona Dolan,
Cleaghmore & Dunlo St.,
087 9409980.

Damien Farrell,
085 7214619.

Deacon William Gacquin,
086 1693902.

Justin Harkin
H53 YR92
087 6171526

Mary B. Killeen
Co. Galway
H53 VK25
086 1052022

Mairead McDonnell ,
085 1239184.

Kevin McGeeney
St. Cuan’s College,

Mairead Mitchell,
087 7549713.

Tony Naessens,
086 0835187.

John Weldon
(Liaison with Syrian Communities in Ireland),
087 9068032.

Each of us is grateful for the support of a broader network of families and friends.


We will publish on this website and in parish newsletters the total amount received.

2020 Report

During October, November and December 2020 this appeal raised €12,392.00.

Click the download button to access the report kindly provided by Trócaire and SAWA illustrating how and when this money was spent.


Last year we queried and costed with Trócaire if it would be cheaper to collect blankets and clothing, dry-clean and wash same, place them in sealed bags and send via a container to the Bekaa Valley. Unfortunately transportation and import duties were prohibitive.

Our research (see also revealed that the following items could be got to Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa Valley for the following amounts:

Winter Clothing
for 3 refugees: €40.00

Solar Latern
(safe to use in tent
& double as mobile
phone chargers): €38.00

Reinforced Plastic Tarps
(to reinforce tents
against flooding & storms): €13

Warm Winter Gloves
(6 pairs): €25

We have decided to leave it to SAWA in consultation with refugees and Trócaire personnel to determine what the funds we raise should be spent on and they remain committed to furnishing us with a written report outlining expenditure.


An ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria, which erupted in 2011, has forced 6 million Syrians out of their homes, 2 million of them into other countries. The consequent humanitarian crisis remains one of the most critical in our world and has been made worse by the Covid 19 pandemic.

According to the United Nations Refuge Agency (UNHCR), as of 31/10/ 2019, the total number of registered refugees in Syrian Refugee Camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley stood at 342,875 individuals / 76,358 families (3.5 times the population of Galway city and 21 times the size of Athlone).

Sawa for Development and Aid (SAWA / is a Lebanese grassroot organisation working with Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley. It was founded in 2011 as a reaction to the dire need for support for Syrian refugees, and works with Syrian families in the camps providing relief, education and livelihood support. They are supported by Trócaire and UNHCR.

Other humanitarian disasters, such as the one unfolding in Afganistan and those in Eastern Africa, mean the plight of the Syrian Refugees no longer receives the same degree of attention. In consequence poverty has increased rather than decreased in the camps.


On Wednesday 11th November 2020 Deirdre Ó Murchadha of Athlone Community Radio interviewed Niall O’Keeffe, Head of Region – Middle East & Asia, Trócaire concerning his recent visit to Syria and the Syrian Refugee Camps in the Bekaa Valley.

Our thanks to Deirdre and Athlone Community Radio for allowing us to make her interview available here.

Part 1

Part 2


We remain eager not to misrepresent life in the Syrian Refugee camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, especially the dignity and resilience of the Syrian residents, and the many pragmatic life-giving initiatives supported by Trócaire, SAWA and other agencies in partnership with refugee families and volunteers. The following photographs and Trocaire 2019 Lenten video are offered in this spirit.

Maya, 10, is a Syrian refugee who has fled the war and lives with her family in the Beqaa valley in Lebanon. Photo : Simon Walsh / Trócaire.
Maya enjoys doing art activities with her sister Amira (11), and brother Farid (13) at the ‘Safe Haven Centre’ provided by Trócaire’s partner SAWA. Photo : Garry Walsh / Trócaire.
It feels like a breath of fresh air to enter the centre, which has a wide open playground area surrounded by flowers. The children attending the centre enjoy playing on the swings, clambering up the climbing frame and spinning around in the playground. Photo: Simon Walsh / Trócaire.
Maya’s younger sister Reem (7) enjoys doing art activities at the ‘Safe Haven Centre’ provided by Trócaire’s partner SAWA. Photo : Garry Walsh / Trócaire.
Maya’s younger sister Reem (7) works on her homework in the dark of the family home. Photo : Garry Walsh / Trócaire.
Children playing in a refugee camp in the  Beqaa valley in Lebanon. Photo : Simon Walsh / Trócaire.
Maya’s family live in very basic rented accommodation. The house doesn’t even have windows and a door which makes it prone to flooding in the Winter. Photo: Simon Walsh / Trócaire.
A photograph of a small section of the informal refugee camps of Bar Elias in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon. Over one million Syrian refugees continue to live in this valley, next to the border of their home country, Syria. Prior to the outbreak of the war in 2011 this valley was predominantly agricultural land. Photo: Simon Walsh / Trócaire.
Bar Elias camp in the Bekaa valley covered in snow in January 2019. Trócaire supported SAWA in 2019 with the purchase of fuel to keep refugees warm and with the purchase and distribution of tarpaulin sheets (used to reinforce tents and to help prevent flooding). Photo : SAWA
Mohamed, a young Syrian refugee collects blankets following the flooding of hundreds of tents in his Refugee Camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley due to Storm Norma on January 7th 2019. Shovels and mattresses (other core relief items) were also distributed. Photo: UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
An example of the kind of coat that could be given to a child in need of one in the camps. Picture: UNHCR//Andrew McConnell


Later this month we hope to provide details of a prayer initiative in support of all hard-pressed refugees and asylum seekers. This is likely to take the form of a time of prayer in St. Michael’s Church, Ballinasloe and open to persons to join in-person or via life-stream:

On behalf of the CREIDEAMH Faith & Friendship Syrian Refugee Appeal committee supporting this initiative (see names above), our friends in SAWA and on behalf of Trócaire’s Syrian Refugee Team, THANK YOU!

We wish to express thanks to St. Grellan’s (Ballinasloe & District) Council of The Knights of St. Columbanus for the administrative and secretarial support they are providing this initiative. We are particularly grateful for their decision to lend their charitable status to this intiative, making Credit and Debit Card and PayPal contributions possible.

Last Updated: 20th December 2021.