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May 2017 bring the children of Syria a future (Opinion)

Hoping for peace throughout the New Year

February 13, 2017

This new year, as we make our resolutions for self improvement, my wish is to remember Syria’s lost children. To promise a future for them.

Periodically, the world seems to be shaken by shocking photographs of traumatized children and families. But after a while, the commotion quiets down. I’m ashamed to say that I stopped reading as many articles and updates about Aleppo after I slowly stopped hearing about it on TV, almost as if the war solemnly drifted away. I liked to think that everything was getting better, that I had helped enough.

But the reality is that war does not come and go at the convenience of onlookers; this is happening now. We might not pay attention until the next photograph lands a spot on the front page of the New York Times, until the next video of an ashen-faced child who survived a bombing becomes a trending topic on Twitter or Facebook. Even so, the number of injured and dead children in Syria is increasing, and we must remember that this is happening every day.

Here in Texas, most teenagers like me wake up in the morning in their comfortable beds and sturdy homes. For breakfast, I drink milk and spread peanut butter on toasted bread. I gather the little crumbs that fall and throw them away, not thinking twice.

In Syria, many children kneel, searching for food, searching for pieces of dried bread along with their hope. Knowing that food I have the privilege of throwing away would be a meal to a Syrian child leaves me feeling heavy with grief. This has been happening since 2011. How much longer must Syria’s youth suffer?

Children in Aleppo hopscotch around dust and debris, growing up scavenging for food and missing loved ones who did not make it. Mourning at such a young age has become normal. Childhoods are being lost in the crevices of the war. These children are Syria’s future dreams and opportunities, and they are growing up without education. They live on the brink of fear, echoes of chaos dragging them awake. Eyes no longer shine and dreams are something to fear as nightmares often plague their sleep. And saying that I admire them, that I wish I could do more than just write about these kids who are even younger than me — it does not do justice to their pain.

I don’t know what the answer is; all I know is that war is stripping these children of their youth. But by writing this column, I hope to remind others that children are being torn away from education, proper sanitation and shelter. Many are starving and cold, and everything they have grown up to know, every scrap of memory and faint familiarity of their homes, have been buried beneath hard, unforgiving rubble.

I hope that 2017 will unite my generation to become the future leaders that can solve issues as daunting as war together. I hope this year will bring more than media pressure and glaring headlines. I hope this year these children will know peace.

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