In May of last year in the days before blogging, I wrote the following post on my Facebook page.
#100Happy Days – Day 16. A more thoughtful post as today I am just happy to be alive, have my family with me, a place to live and live in a free, democratic society. I went to a talk today about the conflict in Syria and felt ashamed I previously haven’t engaged in what is happening. I listened to an educated Syrian woman talk about how it used to be the 3rd safest country in the world and they accepted more refugees than anywhere else. Now there are more Syrian refugees than any other nation. ONE THIRD of the nation has fled or are in refugee camps. HALF of those who have remained are in need of aid. Everytime the phone rings she expects news of the death of a relative/friend. I am not usually political but this really shocked me. So today I am just happy to walk down the street without fear of a suicide bomb or sniper shot.
Through my job I had attended a conference around concerns of extremism in young Muslim students and how they might be persuaded to go to Syria to fight. To put everything into context, they gave a potted history of the crisis in Syria and the problems they were facing in 2014. Things have clearly got much, much worse.
Last week, shocking pictures hit the front pages of all the UK daily newspapers. Some people thought it was too much to show a 3 year old boy, Aylan Kurdi, drowned on the beach. I, along with many other people, shed a tear when I saw it. Sadness for Aylan and his family (his brother and mother also drowned), but also because many people had the same thought
‘That could have been my child’
And re-reading my Facebook post from last year, it so very easily could. Can you really believe now that Syria was one of the safest countries in the world?
Whilst there has been some negativity to the photos last week, this has been overshadowed (I think) by a huge overwhelming positive public response. The blogging community, which I have very recently become a part of, quickly rallied round to show the power of social networking. A Facebook group ‘Save Syria’s Children Charity Challenge’ was set up and a poignant video made up of black & white images was produced to highlight that it very possibly could have been any of our children. The hashtag #savesyriaschildren quickly became the number one trend on Twitter over the weekend and parent bloggers wrote post after post to spread the same simple message – Save Syria’s Children.
I was away all weekend so have only now had the chance to sit down and write. I may only influence one or two people, I may annoy a few people. I don’t really care. I am sat here looking at the Save the Children website and at the top it says ‘No Child Born To Die’. And that is the motivation behind writing this. Whatever your political or religious beliefs, remember that message.
If you haven’t seen it already, please also take a look at this video produced by Save the Children.
To donate £5, text SYRIA to 70008
Or donate online via Save the Children
There is a great website called Help for Syria which gives further background to the conflict and some ideas how you can help. Also here is a really good article published yesterday by the Independent with some practical ideas. My Facebook timeline also has people posting about local charities and organisations set up to collect clothing to send to the refugee camps. Look to see if there is anything local to you.
I will leave you with a quick story that the speaker at the conference I attended last year told us. I barely kept it together then, and still get upset when I think about it now. She said that she had been talking to a friend in Syria who have overheard her children talking one day. One turned to the other and said ‘Tomorrow, if we don’t get shot, shall we go and buy some sweets’.
The innocence of youth, trapped in the ugliness of war.
My rainbows are held close, more than ever.