I first wrote about Syria on my blog in May 2012. It was more of a rant than an informative piece. A rant at the lack of media attention for the Houla massacre that had taken place overnight. A few days later I was at it again, asking “Will you Look Away”, part of a campaign suggesting this was Syria’s tipping point and that the violence had to stop.
It hasn’t. It has got worse. With a migrant crisis on an unprecedented scale. It has come full circle for me in an odd way. I wanted it on the front pages back in 2012. I wanted the world to be talking about it, for petitions to be signed, for it all to end. Now I don’t want it on the front pages anymore. Not because it depresses me but because I simply still wanted it to end. The loss of life. The tragic stories that we get bombarded with on a daily basis are sickening. Families separated, families grieving, families trying to get to safety. Families in the relative safety of camps where they try to rebuild their lives whilst dreaming of one day being reunited with loved ones and getting home.
As ever, it is children who are affected the most. More than 6.5 million have lost homes, friends, family members and seen or experienced violence that no child should have to witness. According to UNICEF, over 2.8 million Syrian children are no longer in school, with experts warning that if the immediate needs for education, psycho-social support and protection are not met, a whole generation could be lost. The effects of this conflict could continue to ripple within Syria and the region for decades to come.
Re-reading the posts genuinely makes me cry. That we are no further forward, that the whole region is still in crisis.
When I wrote those posts it never dawned on me that almost four years later I would be invited by World Vision to visit the area and see for myself the work they are doing to support these families. Back then I didn’t know that charities did trips with bloggers, allowing them to report back for themselves and share with their readers the stories and photos they had taken. Yet, nearly four years later and three trips to Africa with Comic Relief, here I am now preparing for my next trip. To Jordan in fact where Worldvision say:
In Jordan, we’ve helped more than 280,000 people. In host communities, we are ensuring children are protected, educated and spared from disease.
We’re working with partners to offer catch-up schooling for Syrian and Jordanian children have distributed household supplies, food and clothing to nearly 200,000 vulnerable people and have repaired and improved water and sanitation facilities in 100 schools.
The generous UK public who gave to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Syria crisis appeal have provided 20,291 infants with nappies. In addition, around 8,207 children were given winter coats.
I won’t lie. I am apprehensive about flying to the area given recent events in air space there but I couldn’t be more excited (if that is the right word) about seeing the work that World Vision do there. About meeting families and telling the real life stories of people affected by what has gone on in the region.
A month today I will be there, on the first of three full days that will, no doubt, be life changing for me.
And here’s hoping that by repeatedly telling stories of the real people involved we might,ultimately, be able to change their lives too.