A Road to Damascus

Due to the increase of corruption and injustice the Syrian people have faced by the government led by Bashar al-Assad, Syrians went into the streets in 2011 and peacefully demonstrated, protesting against the government asking for democracy and freedom. But the regime of Assad was not pleased and imprisoned protestors, raped women and children, and used chemical weapons against civilians. Hamza al-Khatib, a 13 year old Syrian boy, was found dead during the protests. He died as result of torture and mutilation while being held captive by the regime. Hamza’s cousin reported on the situation in Syria, saying: “People were killed and wounded, some were arrested. It was chaotic. We didn’t know at that point what had happened to Hamza. He just disappeared.”

After the death of 13 year old Hamza, the Syrian people took up arms and rebelled against the Syrian government. Hamza’s death marked the start of the Syrian Revolution as the protests turned into civil war between the Syrian people and the government. Five years later, the civil war unfortunately has no end in sight. So far, 400,000 Syrians have been killed, five million have fled the country as refugees, and almost seven million people internally displaced. Shockingly, 50,000 children have died, innocent victims of airstrikes, barrel bombs, and sectarian fighting.

Smoke rises over the Saif Al Dawla district of Aleppo, Syria.

The Syrian people in and outside the country play a huge role in the conflict. As Syrians, we should plant the seeds of hope and love with the goal of producing a future that blossoms change and return. Manar has planted words of hope and love in her poems to mask the emptiness in her heart and the absence of home snatched by the darkness of war. Poetry and hope are the only things left to trust and lean on after five years of death and destruction; they shelter you from yesterday’s tragedy and protect you from tomorrow’s insecurity. Poetry and hope unite two strangers, two lovers chased down the perilous road that leads to the blackness/despair of nowhere, two hopeful shadows of what they used to be, opening the door to what lies between.

Doctors for Refugees 
As a 20 year old, going to Lebanon on my first medical mission was a life changing experience. Although I haven’t finished my Dental school yet, I was able to help and make a change in their lives. A very fascinating thing was that most doctors and volunteers were non-Syrians, which gave me hope and opened up many doors for the Syrian crisis in terms of finding solutions and spreading awareness. Syrian American Medical Society is a nonpolitical, nonprofit medical relief organization that is working on the front lines of crisis relief in Syria and neighboring countries to alleviate suffering and save lives. SAMS proudly provides medical care and treatment to every patient in need. Before the trip I was overwhelmed and wanted to help but I didn’t know how. I tried my best being active in my community and I advocated with Syrian American Council for what’s happening in Syria. But still, that wasn’t enough for me. It wasn’t satisfying. When I went, I met Syrians, Kurds and Palestinians who are suffering from injustice and war, as well as other inspiring volunteers that shifted my whole prospective about what we can all do to help. Now, coming back from the refugee camps, doesn’t mean forgetting what I’ve seen and went through. My work will not stop, I will be going to many other countries to give, learn and experience. My dream is to rebuild those camps and provide medical clinics in each of them. The hardest and biggest part of making a change, is yourself. Ourselves should be committed to make the change, no matter what happens. Even if i lost my voice, I will keep being the voice of the voiceless. I will keep my voice heard in a good and effective way, i will never settle down until i see humanity spreading all around the universe, until Syria is back to its people.

Syrian Lebanese Boarder Camp, AlArida.

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