Love is louder: How We Can Help Syria
I know this isn’t sexy, funny or scathing, but it deserves our attention. I wrote about the UN’s decision to drop Wonder Woman as an ambassador and some of you may have taken that as an opportunity to draw attention to the atrocities being committed in Syria. I didn’t bring it up in my previous article because there was no room for that kind of false equivalency. If you’re like me, you’ve been trying distract yourself with anything that doesn’t make you feel feelings over the last couple of weeks. It culminated over the past 72 hours with the falling of Aleppo. If you’re not aware of what’s going on, I won’t get into it here, but I strongly recommend reading up on it here is a quick guide, here’s one with a timeline, or here with heartbreaking first hand accounts. Bear in mind that the last link will send you into a tailspin, so I want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourselves into.
It’s not easy. None of this is. Assad and Russian forces are executing civilians in an effort to quell rebels still holding out in Aleppo. This follows months of chemical warfare and the shelling of non-military targets like hospitals and churches. Make no mistake, Bashar Al Assad has the full support of Putin, and the president-elect has called on us to repeatedly support Assad as well. So now, in the era of a completely destabilized Middle East that our eventual president has no visible interest in, where Russia is clearly making a power grab, Trump has nominated an oil company CEO with no government experience as Secretary of State.
Words escape me. There are no words to describe the dangerous and terrifying path America is about to head down. If this is allowed, if Trump’s foreign policy plays out as he hopes, it will be the end of America. This isn’t hyperbole. This is the very real, very possible outcome. The world can’t afford this amount of incompetence from a super power.
As awful as the current climate is, humanity still finds a way to power through. The outpouring from your fellow Pajibans asking, “What can I do to help”, started to reverberate across my Facebook page, and goddammit, you are some magnificent human beings. Within minutes, lists of resources came pouring through. It’s because of that simple catalytic question that I wanted to share with you ways in which you can help, because inaction is compliance. And y’all are nothing if not wonderfully quick to help a community.
SAMS Foundation: the foundation works with Syrian American health care professionals and operates 106 medical facilities throughout Syria
Doctors Without Borders (also known as MSF): provides front-line medical treatment as well as providing drugs, medical supplies and equipment
QuestScope: centered on providing immediate trauma support and psychosocial counseling
Save the Children: this particular organization is on the ground in Syria and in refugee communities providing children and their families with warm clothes, shelters, clean water and emergency care
Syrian Civil Defense (also known as White Helmets): they are about 3,000 neutral, impartial, and humanitarian Syrian volunteers who operate as first responders in rebel-held areas across the country. They were recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Karam Foundation: focused on educational opportunities for Syrian children, currently raising funds to rebuild schools in Syria.
NuDay Syria: the mission of this organization focuses on bringing housing and food to displaced families with single mothers or wounded family members. They are especially concerned with the lack of safe shelter and living for single mothers with daughters.
Hand in Hand for Syria: provides aid including food, clothing, water, sanitation and crucial medical assistance
According to the United Nations, there are almost 14 million Syrian refugees around the world (so far) in need of humanitarian aid. The groups below are mainly focused on helping Syrian refugees:
Migrant Offshore Aid Station: this charity exists to save children like Alan Kurdi, with a fleet of rescue boats patrolling the Mediterranean to save migrants lost at sea.
Refugees Welcome: dubbed as a kind of “Airbnb for refugees” this German nonprofit matches people with spare rooms with refugees in need of housing.
The Worldwide Tribe in Calais: a group of social activists documenting stories in the Calais migrant camp, they also raise relief funds.
Small Projects Istanbul: the initiative provides classes and cultural enrichment and scholarships to Syrian children in Turkey.
International Medical Corps: they run a service center for Syrian refugees that provides medical care, classes and job training.
Medical Teams International focuses on health and dental care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Mercy Corps: the group provides direct aid to Syrian refugees in the form of food and supplies, and by increasing access to clean water and sanitation, shelters, and safe spaces and activities for children
Shelterbox: the group has been providing emergency shelter and supplies to families affected by the Syrian crisis in Iraq Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, including clothing, stoves and, water filters.
UNICEF: the UN agency focuses on assisting Syrian children by providing healthcare, nutrition, immunization, water and sanitation, and classes.
Oxfam: the nonprofit provides aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan such as clean water, sanitation services, and hygiene education to help ward of cholera and other intestinal diseases.
I know donating won’t stop the bombing of civilian areas in Syria. The only way that happens is from educating ourselves more than our representatives seem to be and letting them know when they’re wrong or refusing to take the right course of action. For now, we can give. Our support doesn’t have to be of monetary value. Sometimes, in our darkest, loneliest, or even last moments, to know that we’re all here for each other means more than the world crumbling around us.
Many thanks to the wonderful Pajibans on Facebook for pointing me in the right direction.
Love is louder.