Incredible way a lost city is rebuilding
How do you start to rebuild, when 500,000 people are dead, half a country is destroyed, millions of people driven from their homes, and schools, hospitals, houses, businesses, water pipes and the electricity grids destroyed?
You start small - with two pregnant sheep.
A livelihoods program established by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) is helping residents who lost everything to earn some money and rebuild their lives.
For some, it's about giving money to buy power tools or a sewing machine to get them back into work. Others get seeds and spades to re-establish their market gardens.
In a small village outside Homs, it's a program giving two pregnant sheep to each family.
The sheep have started delivering their lambs, which will help the villagers grow their flocks, and allow them to make a small amount of money by selling the sheep milk, and eventually selling off the male lambs for meat.
Yasser was a lawyer in Homs before the war, which saw the family home destroyed.
Now he and his wife are volunteer teachers in the village of Holaya, 20 minutes from Homs, which was devastated in early fighting in 2012.
He received two pregnant ewes from the Red Crescent last year, along with food for the sheep, medicines, vaccinations and free trips to the veterinarian to ensure they remain healthy.
He named them Fawzia and Sokaria, and they've become so tame they bash on the door of the family's temporary home in the morning demanding breakfast, and try to steal cups of tea from Yasser's hand.
Fawzia produced her lamb several weeks ago, and Sokaria became the star of the village when she delivered twins. Yasser's children Mohammed, 13, and Asma, 11, care for their little flock of five sheep in the ruins of a 1960s palace.
Yasser, who had never raised livestock before, said he got a small amount of milk from Fawzia, but all Sokaria's milk currently went to her twin lambs.
"I benefit from the people who have experience in (raising) the sheep,'' he said.
"Of course it is very good, very important and very useful for the community. A lot of people have benefited in the community. It's perfect.
"The families who live here, they hope and wish to get just one lamb.''
The Red Crescent volunteers and staff visit the families regularly to check how they're managing with the sheep, and ensure their vaccinations are up to date.
"We get a lot of medicines, the awareness sessions, the vaccines and now the sheep are in good health,'' Yasser said.
"People should take care of their sheep like human people - there's a responsibility.''
Red Crescent's disaster management co-ordinator Tarek Ashraf said 400 pregnant ewes had so far been distributed around Homs, mainly to people who had returned to the area after fleeing the conflict.
"Where returnees are in rural areas, the most important livelihood aspect is to raise the sheep,'' he said.
"Each family gets two pregnant sheep, and 600kg of sheep feed and veterinarian services.''
Families use the sheep milk to supplement their food at home, mostly giving it to their children to drink, and making cheese and yoghurt.
As the flocks grow, the aim is for the milk to be sold to factories, and Red Crescent is introducing the families to the factory owners to help them establish networks.
The fleece is not yet used commercially, but can be used to stuff pillows or mattresses at homes.
Nadia and Nawaf Al-Hajar have seven children, and had to abandon their home in Homs due to the conflict.
They moved to Holaya, and received two pregnant sheep.
One of the lambs died, but the other survived, and the sheep produces enough milk to feed her lamb, with several cups of milk left over each day for the younger children.
"They love it a lot,'' Nadia Al-Hajar said.
"It's very helpful; it offers the food and is very important.
"We hope to have a big group of sheep.
"If I had a huge amount of milk I would divide it between the traders and keep some for the family, for cheese and yoghurt. The family in the house is more important than the traders.''
Many of the Holaya families combine their sheep in a flock with other family members and neighbours, some of whom have livestock experience and act as shepherds.
Ashraf said the Homs governate was large - 42,000 square kilometres, bigger than Lebanon - and was home to 2.5 million people.
"There are 136,000 families and 55,500 IDPs (internally displaced persons),'' he said.
"80,000 of those families lost the head of their household, lost their house, or lost their livelihood - or all three.
"We have about 20,000 returnees, mainly from Lebanon.''
Red Crescent is still doing emergency relief in Homs, distributing food and medicines from some of its 32 distribution warehouses. But the number of food parcels has fallen from a peak of 1.1 million in 2016 to 408,000 last year.
The Red Crescent was now working to get people rehomed and back into paid work.
"We're now assessing the families according to their needs,'' Ashraf said.
"Engineers assess the homes and determine if they are safe or not. Also the houses are checked for mines. People need doors, windows, electricity and water.''
The Red Crescent is offering psychosocial support for those traumatised by their experiences. They also try to get the wounded back into work, or provide employment for other members of their family, if the head of the household is too badly injured to work.
"We have psychosocial support for people who lost limbs,'' Ashraf said.
"Some of them find work fixing mobile phones or computers, or SARC helps a member of their family find work.
"It's very important. We encourage them to merge with the community.''
More than 3200 families in rural areas were given help to set up home gardens.
In the neighbouring governate of Deir ez Zor, Azaz Hamad Hesien was a market gardener before the war.
He grew vegetables and herbs on his little plot of land across the road from the Euphrates River.
But his house came under fire during the conflict, and his garden was destroyed.
Somehow, the family survived, although their house is riddled with bullet-holes and mortar damage.
Now, the family is rebuilding, with the help of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, who gave Hesien seeds, fertiliser and gardening tools including a spade, rake and a hoe.
He is now growing tomatoes, squash, beans, parsley and eggplants in neat rows.
"The plants now are growing. Right now it is winter so it is just for the family, but in summer I can sell some of them,'' he said.
Hesien and his wife Furat al-Hesien have two sons and four daughters - including five-year-old twins.
After the fighting ended, they dug a well on their property and planted the seeds SARC gave them.
They carry water from the river to irrigate the plants.
It is a modest start, but it is the hand up the family needed.
"I have other land near to here but there are bombs in it,'' Hesien said.
Back in Homs, in the ruined Al-Khalidiya district, blacksmith Samir is working, producing window frames, gates and balcony balustrades.
Some of them are appearing on the houses along his street, which are slowly being rebuilt.
Samir, a father of five, worked here for 30 years, living in a flat above his workshop, until the fighting began.
He and his family fled when their house and workshop were destroyed, but returned 18 months ago, clearing the rubble by hand and moving back into the flat above.
Under the Syrian Arab Red Crescent livelihoods program, he received a conditional donation of around $1300, which allowed him to buy new power tools, and start taking orders again.
After six months, he was audited by the Red Crescent, and because his business was going well and he was returning an income, the donation was deemed a success, and he was allowed to keep the tools, and get on with his business.
Samir said he had started trying to make items by hand, but the ability to buy the power tools had given him a huge head start and allowed him to start providing for his family again.
"The project has pushed me, three, four years ahead of where I thought I would be,'' he said.
"It's really improved my situation. I'm very satisfied, it's excellent.''
To support the work of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, please donate at www.redcross.org.au/syria