ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan charity that has been working in Syria for years is worried that its hard work will soon be destroyed because of President Donald Trump’s decision to move U.S. troops away from a Turkish assault.
“It will be terrible for the people that we have been working with … for the fight against ISIS,” Steve Gumaer, the founder and president of Ada-based Partners Relief and Development, told News 8 in a video call Monday.
Gumaer said with help from Kurdish volunteers like Bashir Talati, the charity has been able to focus on development for children and families caught up in civil war and occupation by Islamic State militants.
“After the war and this huge destruction of my country, most of the schools and the health care centers have been destroyed or half destroyed or affected by the war,” Talati said in a video call from Syria.
Relying on donated funds, Partners Relief and Development has reopened six schools serving more than 2,000 kids. It has also built two medical clinics, with construction on the second wrapping up only two weeks ago. The buildings are beacons of hope for Talati and his family. They’ve been concerned about the future for their young son.
“I want him to have a safe life in his hometown with his cousin, going every morning with his grandmother to the garden. This is the normal life which we have today,” he said.
It’s unclear how the withdrawal will affect the schools and clinics built by the group, but Gumaer is already speculating that “if there is a renewal of conflict, the schools and clinics will first be a gathering point and may be destroyed.”
The group says it may have to switch the focus from development to relief, but won’t stop helping.