Real faces from the war in Syria

Posted on November 12, 2012

Malek lost his leg at 10 years old.

After helping children take cover from shelling that was nearing his town in Idlib, Syria, Malek was struck by the aerial attack. More than 3/4 of his left leg is gone.

At only 10 years old, this boy has faced the consequences of violence and inhumanity. His sole comfort is an Atari handheld console, but even that doesn’t help him avoid the sensation he feels where his left leg should be.

Before you read this, you didn’t even know Malek existed – but he does. And he’s living what some people would call a nightmare.

He lives without his mom and dad in a hospital in Reyhanli, a Turkish town bordering Syria.

The world can seem quite large. Pain and suffering happening in a country miles away is easily ignored – unless you’re somehow touched by it.

I’ve lived in America my whole life, and I can’t see myself living anywhere else. However, I’m a first-generation American whose parents came from Damascus, Syria for a better life.

With more than 30,000 Syrians killed, people ask me what I think about what’s happening in Syria. I tell them I’m not in a place to say because I’m not there. It’s a really complicated situation, and all I know for sure is that people are getting hurt. I hope that they all see justice soon.

Last month I got the opportunity to travel to Turkey. School was still in session, but there was a chance I could report from inside Syria. As a student journalist, there was no way I was going to miss out.

I spent a week there. My uncle was my guide, and he quickly introduced me to the key players of the trip.

There was Mohamad. He’s like an Arab Che Guevara. When he’s not going to Syria supplying the Free Syrian Army with weapons and aid, he’s in Turkey translating for Turkish news broadcasts.

Then there was Nour. She was the only female activist I met, but she thought like a man and acted like lady. Before moving to Turkey, Nour worked as a translator in Syria for international news agencies covering the civil war in Syria. Eventually, she began to receive threats from government supporters and had to leave her family in Syria because of it. In hijab, or headscarf worn by Muslim women, she traveled seven hours with me and my uncle to and from the Syrian border.

I wrote this hoping to introduce you to some of these real people who are working to bring democracy to their country.

You may not know them directly, but you know them through me.

At the very least, you know the 10-year-old boy who will grow up without a leg due to a violent civil war.

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Originally published in Fullerton Observer.

Posted in: Opinion