Lufti founded the Franciscan Care Center's post-traumatic war treatment program in Aleppo in 2017. Since then, its staff of clinical psychologists, volunteers, and social workers have served 1,500 Syrian children aged 6-17 years old.
In addition to psychological treatment, the center provides art therapy and recreational activities with painting, sculpture, music, theater, dance, basketball, and swimming. It also has a training course for parents focused on how to best care for and support their child's mental health during treatment.
Since the onset of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, some 500,000 people have been killed. In the eighth year of the conflict, 5.6 million refugees have fled the country and 6.1 million more have been internally displaced, according to the UN.
Fighting in Syria's Idlib province, to the west of Aleppo province, has displaced nearly 1 million people from their homes since December 2019. Turkish-backed rebels have been opposing the Russian-backed Syrian government's offensive in the province, which isSyria's last rebel-held territory. A cease-fire in the province signed by the leaders of Russia and Turkey went into effect March 6.
Fr. Lufti, who is currently based in Lebanon after spending 12 years in Syria, said that the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land currently has two friars stationed in Idlib province: "This is another chapter for us because we have two Franciscan friars still living there in that dramatic area ... They are living and taking care of the small Christian community, about 300 families, and they take care also of lots of Muslims who escaped from bombarding," Lufti said.
"They are our heroes as the Franciscans who are living in the worst situation and dramatic situation in Syria," he said.