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Bana Alabed's Syria: A True Horror

Grateful For My Own Safety

Sometimes, all you need is perspective.

There are days when we all look at our lives and think that things are not as they should be; that our lives truly suck and things will never get better.

For those who may think that even now in this instant, I urge you to consider the case of 7-year-old Bana Alabed - @alabedbana on Twitter. This young woman and her mother, Fatemah, are directly in the line of fire in Aleppo, Syria, live tweeting their harrowing experiences as they fight for their lives. The truth is, they aren't fighting in the traditional sense, but they have been regularly fighting to keep the roof over their heads - their home fell victim to a recent round of bombing - and on the run to avoid being killed by those who are trying to extinguish the latest efforts by insurgents against Syria's leader Bashad al-Assad.

While it could be argued that all war has collateral damage, Bana's and her mother's tweets are among the most heartwrenching tweets to come out of Syria in recent weeks. While the world continues to welcome Syrian refugee families looking to escape Aleppo and other parts of the country so stricken by war that no one is safe, there appears to be exceptions and questions. Among these exceptions appears to be instances like Canada, where Syrian families, and not single Syrian men, tend to be accepted as refugees into the country, or other countries where it appears that the borders are being tightened gradually against those looking to flee the war torn country.

It's brutal to see a 7-year-old girl, though, talking about her attempts to "forget the war" by reading. Pictures of Bana, holding up a sign pleading for the international community to not forget what's happening in Aleppo. The last message received about the family via Twitter is ominous, stating that the family is on the run as they fight for their lives. That was some five hours ago, and while obviously the family has greater priorities than maintaining their Twitter feed, it's almost certain that the little girl is nowhere near safe.

Far From A "Normal" Life


All Our Kids

She could be any one of our children - sweet smile, slight build - and should be in a classroom learning the same sorts of things as North American kids are learning at Grade 2. She shouldn't have to be dealing with death at every turn, wondering if she'll actually wake in the morning from the horrors that visit her daily. It's hard to reconcile the image of 7-year-old Bana Alabed, covered in a heavy film of dust from a recent explosion, with images of my own youngest daughter, who spends her days coming up with science experiments, trying to coordinate new outfits and other likeminded activities.

I am grateful that my family lives in Canada, where attacks such as the ongoing bombardments in Syria are wildly beyond my scope. I am grateful that I don't have to spend every waking minute wondering if my kids will live to see the next day, and that they spend the greatest portion of their days worrying about television shows they like or what sort of shoes they want for gym class.

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I hope that young Bana Alabed and her family continues to survive and that they ultimately find their way out of Syria in order to be safe, finally. No child should have to wonder where their next meal is coming from or why they can never go home (though I safely suspect that in Bana's case, she's well aware of why she can't return home.)

I know my kids would be heartbroken to learn about kids living through such horror. They are fairly switched on about the world's issues, and they enjoy children of all ages. It would make them incredibly sad to learn that a young girl is taking to Twitter to educate the world about her fight to live through Syria's war - though I suspect my youngest daughter, who is also 7, would start to complain that Bana is allowed a Twitter account and she is not.

There are bigger issues at play, though, and those who have been following Bana Alabed's story are no doubt sickened by the images this young girl and her mother are posting during their fight to stay alive.

The question is, what are we going to do about it? Is she going to become another of history's blips, or are we going to help her make a difference, somehow?

NBC Talks To Bana Alabed

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