In between clouds of freshly exploded smoke, the horrific roar of planes overhead, and the routine dropping of bombs, there are thousands of babies growing up in war-torn Syria. Seven-year-old Bana Alabed is one of them. In East Aleppo, as war rages on, Bana is trying to be a kid; reading Harry Potter, playing with her dolls, and growing up. Unlike most seven-year-olds, she’s doing it to the staccato rhythm of the bombs falling outside of her home. And, in the midst of the living hell that is East Aleppo, Bana is live-tweeting life to her 180,000 Twitter followers.
Where is Bana?
East Aleppo. Aleppo itself is basically divided in half; the west side of the city is controlled by the government, and the east side of the city is controlled by the rebels. The city is almost constantly under fire, though the Syrian government continues to deny involvement. The 250,000 people who live in East Aleppo – many of them children- cannot leave. There are no roads out, there is not much food, and there is not much water. It’s incredibly dangerous.
What exactly is going on in Aleppo?
A lot. This article gives a pretty good primer.
What is Bana doing?
When she’s not flipping through the pages of Harry Potter (and being Twitter friends with J.K. Rowling), she’s showing the rest of the world the atrocities that are occurring outside of her very window. A scroll down her timeline will undoubtedly have you in tears; her innocence is widely gone, but her hope is not.
Why should I follow along?
We are in one of the biggest global humanitarian crises in history. Entrenched in a bloody civil war, the lives and innocence of too many people are being ripped away in a glance. As we sit in our warm beds across the pond, people like Bana are wondering if they’ll live to see the next sunrise. Thousands of people are losing their loved ones, watching their homes disappear into dust, and becoming deaf to the sound of it all. Whether it’s smiling with Bana as she discovers a new hidden passageway in Hogwarts, crying with her as she mourns the senseless loss of a friend, or watching with her as she looks below into a life that should be far beyond normal, we must be with her. We must remember that we live cozy lives, especially compared to those who live with hell raining down on them. Most importantly, we must refuse to turn a blind eye to the atrocities that are happening- no matter if they’re in our own backyards or in a bombed-out neighborhood somewhere in Aleppo. As humans, we don’t have another choice.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” -Martin Niemoller