When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need – regardless of their religion or politics. Known as the White Helmets these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth.
Once again, in the spirit of giving (and in the spirit of trying to be a human being), I write about an organization that most definitely deserves our support. As the most recently negotiated ceasefire in Syria has failed, and the international community has failed, and we have failed utterly in our responsibility to our fellow human and have watched, from a distance, once again, as innocent people die in Aleppo, we are, I hope, ashamed. We are also, very likely, feeling impotent.
The time to have helped, of course, was years ago, as we watched Assad cross one line (using military force against civilians), then another (using chemical weapons against civilians), with hardly a peep from our western world leaders because, hey, we didn’t want to piss off Russia. Or perhaps long before that, before the West began its ceaseless meddling that seems only to pile up the bodies in the Middle East and leaves us tut-tutting and wondering why people in hot countries can’t seem to solve “their” problems.
But anyhow, here we are, in the undesirable present. And now people are sending their good-bye messages from Aleppo**. They asked for help, they didn’t get it, and for most of them, there is nothing we can do now except remember them and feel ashamed.
But there are some people who aren’t “on the other side of the world” from it all. They don’t care about the politics, they don’t care about religion. They are willing to put their lives on the line to help human beings, any human beings. They walk with their eyes wide open into nightmares. They risk being killed, and sometimes are killed, or injured. They have saved over 73 500 lives. They are neutral; they are unarmed; they are volunteers. They are the Syrian Civil Defense (the “White Helmets”, http://www.whitehelmets.org/en), and they deserve everything.
Please give whatever you can, knowing there is no amount of money that should make us feel better for what we have been complicit in. But give anyway. Give generously, even if you can only spare a little. Help someone else be braver than we have been, and to do good where we did not.
**I’m including one of these messages (taken from a longer message by Abdulkafi Alhamdo and shared by Al Jazeera) because it moved me. There are many many more. [Please note this video has nothing to do with the White Helmets, who are politically neutral, but Mr. Alhamdo’s words helped me to see the urgency of the situation so I thought it may be important here.]