Ahmad was born and raised in Damascus, and now works tirelessly for children with our humanitarian team in Syria.
What did you do before the war in Syria?
I used to work as a tour guide but with the beginning of the unrest, foreigners were evacuated and every aspect of normal life was suspended. It became obvious that the next phase would be armed conflict. I had to pick a side, and my choice was the aid workers’ side. I didn’t appreciate at the time how this choice would reshape my entire life for good.
How long did you work in the conflict there?
Seven years – since the beginning. Seven years of unremitting horror, fear, and neglect. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives, millions have lost the means to survive, and over half of the population have been forced from their homes. My country has become hell on earth.
How have Syria’s children been affected?
They’ve paid the heaviest price for this nightmare: they’ve been attacked in their homes, schools, playgrounds and hospitals. This war has left children dead, maimed, or living with wounds that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. I have met children standing on the rubble of what used to be their schools, in collective shelters on the frontline, and in the middle of the sea hoping to be rescued from the waves.
How are you helping them?
Our job in Syria is getting harder: it’s not just about saving children’s lives, it’s also protecting them from losing hope. War, violence and fear can’t become their only reality. We need to remind children – or in the case of the generation who have only known war, introduce them to the fact – that one day they will look at the sky and enjoy the beauty of it rather than fear where the next airplane will strike. One day they will go to the park to play and have fun, not to bury a loved one.
What can we do?
I’ve seen how a simple gesture can make a difference to children’s lives. By supporting one school, you can put a smile on hundreds of faces; by supporting a clinic you can give hope back to thousands of desperate mothers who thought it was the end for their children. Any act of kindness in this land – even if it might seem like a humble contribution – could mean the difference between life and death.
You can find out more about our work in Syria and donate to those caught up in the emergency, here: https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/how-you-can-help/emergencies/syria-crisis-appeal