This Christmas, most of us will enjoy the festivities from the safety of home, in the comforting embrace of family and friends.
Not everyone is so lucky. There are people in war torn corners of the world that will not give a second thought to Christmas crackers and gift-giving, concerned more with their daily fight for survival amid the brutality of bombs and political upheaval.
War doesn’t stop for the holidays, and consequentially, there are many brave British citizens who will spend this Christmas away from home, working in unfamiliar territories on behalf of those who need aid.
One such man is John Bradshaw from Hove, who is swapping Brighton for Beirut this Christmas, to play a vital role in alleviating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis which rages on in Syria.
As the Syrian representative in the Department for International Development (DFID), John is working tirelessly with international aid agencies in Beirut to ensure vital UK supplies reach the people affected by the conflict in Syria.
Deliveries include food rations, medicine, sanitation products and clean water for the 13.5 million people in need.
— Mussa (@MussaTa) December 9, 2016
The British aid also includes care and counselling to traumatised children – who make up more than half of those people affected – along with a basic education.
These services that we take for granted have simply ceased to exist in Syria amid the complete meltdown of humanity.
On spending Christmas away from his wife and son, John was resolutely and admirably positive.
I’m looking forward to discovering how people in a new place celebrate Christmas. Many people in Beirut are Christians and they celebrate Christmas as hard as anywhere, so I expect we will see much festivity. And of course, the weather here might be a little better than in Brighton and Hove!Advertisement
I will miss walking along the windy Brighton promenade on Christmas morning though, and then dropping into a waterfront pub for a mulled cider.
While John will doing all he can to deliver aid to those trapped in the war zone in Syria, other Brits like Sheffield-born Ianto Jones, 33, are aiding the refugees who flood out of the country in their thousands, seeking refuge away from the perpetual destruction of their home.
As the Deputy Head of the Jordan office at the DFID, Jones will be helping the country cope with the 655,000 refugees who have arrived from neighbouring Syria, using some of the £2.3 billion pledged by the British government to make sure the refugees and the people of Jordan get the support they so badly need.
Ianto will be close to Bethlehem this Christmas, but he speaks of missing home and his sisters:
While I am excited to be right next to Bethlehem at Christmas time, I will miss seeing my sister’s children going mad with excitement and the simple things, like frequent trips to the pub to catch up with friends and family.
But, the humanitarian situation in Syria doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas, so neither can we.
This Christmas, people all around the globe will be wishing for a peaceful resolution to the conflicts that have destroyed their lives.
So, spare a thought for those over the holidays who are working tirelessly to return some semblance of harmony and love to people displaced and broken by war this Christmas.
This article is part of a series of stories on The Forgotten people at Christmas.