In the lead up to the festive season I just wanted to say a very big and heartfelt thank you to all those who have supported the development of Song of Shadows and Dust this year, especially to those of you who have gone out and bought a copy - either as a pdf or as a hard copy. While the author's cut of the profits has not quite been enough for me to by the holiday cottage in Donegal that I've had my eye on, it has enabled me to make a donation of £80 (approx. US$130) to the UNHCR Syria Crisis Urgent Appeal.
For me, 2013 has been a bad year. We lost our little daughter, Aoife, in the summer and we have been left with a huge hole in our lives when there should have been such joy. However, there is some sadness and suffering that we as a community can do something to mitigate. When I wrote SSD I decided that I would use the proceeds to do something to help some of the weakest and least fortunate. As I have said before, 50% of all royalties from sales will be donated to the UNHCR the United Nations refugee agency. The most dramatic crisis facing the UNHCR at the moment is Syria where somewhere in the region of half of all Syrians have been displaced from their homes and over 10% of Syrians have been forced to flee their country in fear of death and persecution.
Here is what the UNHCR has to say at the moment on their website:
UN launches biggest humanitarian appeal to help.
After months of conflict, the situation in Syria remains dire. Over 2.3 million Syrian refugees have now fled into neighbouring countries and thousands more are pouring across borders each day - this is one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history.
Now, a massive snowstorm, dubbed Alexa, has brought freezing temperatures, fierce winds and rain and snow, with hundreds of refugees struggling to stay warm and dry in their tents or makeshift shelters.
UNHCR is on the ground providing urgently needed relief to millions of Syrians as the bitter winter sets in - distributing stoves and fuel for heating, insulation for tents, blankets and quilts, mattresses and waterproof footwear.
The small donation made today comes from the sales of SSD in the months of October and November. I was going to wait until the end of the year to make the first donation but felt it better to try and help now than to hold on longer. An amount of £80 is enough to provide basic kitchen equipment to eight refugee families in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan or Turkey. To put that in perspective, the same amount would buy two market-leading wargaming rule books (or two boxes of resin dwarves in barrels) or just over a third of a new Kindle Fire.