Teachers at a primary school here in the Netherlands raised some money a few weeks ago for the kids at the Mustafa Qarman school in Aleppo. They wanted to give the kids in Aleppo the chance to celebrate the holiday of Saint Martin, a Halloween-like tradition in which Dutch kids go door to door asking for candy. Even if they can’t go door to door, then at least they could get some candy at school.
When he first heard about it, Muhammad, the coordinator of the school project in Aleppo, thought it was a great idea. There was enough money to buy plenty of candy for the 144 pupils.
He called me last week. Due to the siege, there hasn’t been any sugar in East Aleppo for some time, and there is no candy to be found anywhere. He said he would make do with small toys, stickers and pens.
Muhammad is mostly concerned about the coming winter. There’s no fuel for the heaters or the generators, and all the available wood has been burned up. The kids are going to be cold.
He’s going to look for some extra clothes and blankets to keep the kids warm when they’re at school.
Only then did it occur to me – we celebrate Saint Martin because he once tore his cloak in half and shared it with someone who was suffering from the cold.