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The current crisis in Aleppo continues to reach horrific levels of death and destruction. Men, women, and children are all unsafe as long as they remain in the city. “The temperatures are extremely low and, without an adequate supply of food, water and shelter, displaced people are trying to survive in very precarious conditions,” comments Marianne Gasser, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria.
Watching this traumatic event unfold leaves many of us feeling powerless and wondering what we can do to help. But hope has arisen as evacuation efforts have finally been made in mid-December 2016. And, even from a distance, there are measures that us as students, staff, and parents can take in order to aid those suffering in Aleppo.
Donating to a charity is always a kind and significant way to help those in need. But many of today’s charities are corrupt and do not get the money to where it really needs to go. This does not mean that you should not donate, it just means that you must be careful when choosing an organization worthy of your charity. Make sure to research the charity you wish to donate to, so that you are sure it is trustworthy and working towards to the same cause as yourself.
Charity Navigator is a non-profit organization that ranks charities on how effectively they manage and spend the money donated to them. The following charities have all been highly acclaimed and ranked with three or four stars out of four total: American Refugee Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Global Hope Network International, GlobalGiving, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief USA, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development, Oxfam America, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, and United States Fund for UNICEF.
Some other honest charities worth donating to are Hand in Hand for Syria, Save the Children, and The White Helmets. Hand in Hand for Syria works to equip the most unreachable areas of Syria with food and medical care. Save The Children provides adequate clothing, places to stay, protection, and emergency aid to Syrian families. The White Helmets is a group of volunteers that launches missions in order to rescue Syrian refugees after bombings occur. This group is in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize due to its incredible effort and bravery. Their motto is “to save one life, is to save all of humanity”.
Contacting Massachusetts state officials is a great way to raise awareness as well. Write letters, call in, send emails, or all of the above. Make the crisis apparent and encourage the government to feel the same way you do. You are one person, but your actions account for much more.
While volunteering in Syria is not something most of us will be able to do, there are ways to volunteer locally as well. Once Syrians reach America and begin to settle down after an intense and lengthy screening process, it is understandably difficult for them to adjust to such a new life. However, these new members of society receive support through local organizations that you can volunteer to help with. These groups help situate Syrians in their new lives by arranging for housing, food, and clothing. These groups also educate Syrians on American culture and help Syrians access other necessary services.
In Massachusetts, the local institutions that assist refugees and immigrants with their new lives are the International Institute of Boston, the Massachusetts Office of Refugee & Immigrants, the Refugee & Immigrants Assistance Center, and Refugee and Immigration Services.
Although it may not seem like it, another big way to make a difference for those in Aleppo is to educate yourself and others on the topic. It is too frequent that the world forgets about the struggles of Syrians. The crisis in Aleppo is not talked about nearly enough in comparison to all of the damage that it is causing.
In order to make a difference, we must first know what changes need to be made. Be sure to talk about this crisis at school or at home. Research and learn all that you can about what is really happening. There is plenty of false and biased information out there, so find the truth and understand it. Do not shy away from the topic, because the problem is real and it is valid. Just because the media may not cover it enough does not mean it does not exist. Do not be afraid to stand up to prejudice against Syrians. Do not be afraid to be an ally.
Another way to talk about the crisis is through http://childrenofsyria.info/add-your-voice/ This website allows for anyone from anywhere in the world to post a message, or “add your voice”, in order to raise awareness for the Syrian people. Messages on this website are from people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. One message posted to this website is by a girl named Bethany from Canada. She says, “Beloved children in Syria, I hope and pray for nothing but peace, hope and happiness for each and everyone of you. Your lives are worth so much. My love is with you sweet children!”
This website also allows for Syrian children to have a voice of their own during a time where they do not. Through this site, you can show your support, take action, and develop a greater understanding of the lives of Syrians. You can see that Syrians are just as human as we are and they deserve our humanity.
Even though we are far away and our impact seems small, it is much bigger than we realize. Every effort to help improve the current state in Syria is needed. Donate, volunteer, contact the government, educate yourselves, or even find another way to extend your support. No matter how you do it or how much you do, every action lends a helping hand to the innocent men, women, and children suffering in Syria. Remember; “to save one life, is to save all of humanity”.