Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Syria today

This is to give a mention to one of the bravest women on the planet.

Asmaa is a 38 year old White Helmet volunteer living and working in Daraa, the city known for sparking the peaceful uprising in Syria in 2011. Punished for rising up, the city is often cut off from food, medicine and aid. Its residents do everything they can to save each other.

Before the revolution Asmaa worked as a physiotherapist in her own clinic. When the revolution began and protesters were shot by snipers, she started working as a paramedic, rushing to where the bullets were being fired. She was arrested several times by the regime for her humanitarian work. Every time, she went back to treating wounded protesters and those who needed her. Eventually, the regime destroyed her clinic.

Asmaa joined the White Helmets [Syria Civil Defence] in 2015. For her it was a big change: “Before when I worked alone I had only my legs to carry me to the scenes of attacks, or on a lucky day someone would offer a ride on their motorcycle or in their car. Now it’s easier to save people’s lives because there is an entire team of brave humanitarians and an equipped ambulance to get us to those who need us quickly. All that matters to me is that I can help the victims of bombs.”

The thing that keeps Asmaa going is knowing she has the support of her family and community. Asmaa’s father was suffering from a treatable heart condition, but living under siege he lacked the medicine he needed to stay alive. Before he died he would see the work she was doing and tell her “God bless you, God protect you”.

While we wait for politicians to grow a backbone and act to protect civilians, there are very real things we can do to support heroes like Asmaa. The White Helmets need more equipment to save lives, they need to know that if they are wounded they can get medical treatment, or if the worst happens their families will be looked after.

The White Helmets missed out on the Nobel Peace Prize this year, let us mot forget Asmaa and her team mates.

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