Revisiting that Photo of the Little Syrian Boy

 

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This is the world-famous photo of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh. The photograher is Mahmoud Raslan, Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

 

This searing image of Omran Daqneesh has reminded many viewers of another Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, one of the refugees of the Syrian Civil War.  The photographer, Mahmoud Raslan, noted that, at the same time, other children were brought into the hospital with life-threatening wounds; one, a little boy who died on a gurney, was named Ibrahim Hadiri.  The volunteer who pulled Daqneesh from the rubble reminded the world that such tragedies have been happening in Syria every day.   Several photo journalists have been asking how long the effect of this photo will last.

Reuters has compiled a harrowing gallery photos of children in Aleppo being rescued from buildings destroyed in the bloody civil war there.

We must not forget this photo, for the reason it represents so many other children who are dying in Syria every day.  A Wikipedia entry for Omran Daqneesh has been started, but it urgently needs more work, as well as public support.

 

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Malala Speaks Up (Again) for Syrian Children

 

In this powerful video, Malala has hope that the Syrian child refugees will survive and one day be able to return home.  That hope, however, is dampened by the grave concerns she has for what may be the irreparable damage that has been done to these young lives.  The statistics are as staggering as they are frightening.

Malala tells their story for the world to hear.

It doesn’t have to be that way!  Syrian children need money for an education.  Let’s help them come home and rebuild their country.

 

Thanksgiving – My Family, Syrians, and Arctic Wolves

First, to my dear readers, a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

While I look forward to spending time with some of my precious family, for which I am extremely grateful, my heart continues to ache for those who are separated from their families.  I think of the Syrian refugees, of whom more than half are children.  I continue to shed tears for them, for how they have been treated by the despots in their home countries, as well as for how these people have become scapegoats, targets of shameful racist demagoguery both among existing politicians and candidates seeking political office next year.

Arctic Wolf Family

A family of Arctic wolves spends time together at the Lakota Wolf Preserve, Columbia, NJ. PHOTO: Copyright 2015, Daniel L. Berek

Wolves are often portrayed in popular literature and folklore as the evil.  Of all the pictures I have taken of these magnificent animals, this one best shows how popular myth so often gets it wrong.  My point: the same applies to the hateful things said about the Syrian refugees and Muslims in general.  My experiences with both show the opposite.

So, on this Thanksgiving, before I join members of my own family, I took a few moments to pen a letter to President Barack Obama, to express my support for his wise and humane policies regarding the refugees and immigrants.   In my letter, I express my feelings that his plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees “has great metaphorical and practical meaning, as that is the number of children saved during the Holocaust, thanks to the Kindertransport and the generosity of the British people.”

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The Refugee Crisis: It’s About Mending, Not Building Fences

When I created this blog, it was not my intention to use it as a political mouthpiece.  Recent events in the political arena, however, have been anything but typical.  I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Even where there are walls, there should be open doorways.

Even where there are walls, there should be open doorways.

Last week, a heart-rending photo of a little boy washed up on the beach received tremendous exposure, thanks to the power of the social media.  There is no need to display the photo here; I am sure most readers know exactly which photo I am referring to.  As with all warfare, children are disproportionately affected.  Among huge numbers of refugees fleeing the despair that is Syria, Iraq, Iran, and parts of North Africa are more children than anyone can count, on which the UNHCR has reported.  That little Syrian boy – here is who he was.  At least that once innocent child from Syria on the beach now has a name, Aylan Kurdi.  Beyond the love of his parents, he had little else.

About those recent political happenings… The ones I am referring to are the insidious and pugnacious remarks by Donald Trump in his quest for his presidential nomination.  He and his GOP counterparts are racing to score political points, ranting about the dangers “Mexican rapists” pose (as the true ignorant bigot he his, Mr. Trump wraps up Mexicans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and other Latinos in a single stereotyped adjectives), while a genuine crisis looms across the Atlantic, one not seen since the dark days of Nazism.  Their diatribe trivializes the unfolding tragedy of the refugees, the families, and their children, of which that little Syrian boy is an example.  The whole spectacle is sickening.  What we now confront is no less than moral catastrophe.  For now, a growing number of Democrats in Congress are urging the US to do its part.

Individuals are also being called on to do their part.  After all, says New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, these refugees are people who could be us and probably were our parents or grandparents.  “Love the stranger, because that stranger could be us,” extols Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  Rabbi Sacks brought up the Kindertransport during an NPR interview, when Nicholas Winton organized the transfer of more than 10,000 Jewish children to England, saving their lives from the maws of the Nazi monster.

Hideous cartoons such as this are what follow when solipsistic individuals hijack important social issues to serve their own narrow ends.

Hideous cartoons such as this are what follow when solipsistic individuals hijack important social issues to serve their own narrow ends.

For political games in the US, it needs to be “Game Over.”  As Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai urged, we need to call on our leaders, our representatives.  And Charity Navigator has set up a page to help donors decide on a charity that would put funds to best use.  “Tear down that wall!”  Now is the time for people to come together for all of humanity and mend fences, not build them.

The Janusz Korczak Association Will Hold Its 4th Meeting via Conference Call, Monday, September 16, 2013, from 7:00 to 8:30 Eastern Time

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 INVITATION

The Janusz Korczak Association of the USA will have its next meeting on Monday, September 16th from 7pm – 8:30-pm EST (New York time) via conference call. Please call 888-998-2663 and use participant code – 3131820#.

If you are planning to attend the call, please let Mariola Strahlberg know by sending email to shiningmtnny@aol.com.  Please include items of interest to you so that I can include them in the agenda.

Tentative agenda for the call:

  • Report from the trip to Korczakowo, Poland and CATS Conference, Switzerland
  • Korczak’s presentations
  • Korczak’s exhibits
  • Timmy the Great play in NYC
  • Update about Korczak’s Facebook page
  • Update on the Five Star Program©
  • Kurt Bomze’s proposal for 2 projects and letter about Syrian Children.

If you have articles or any other information for our 1st newsletter, please send them to me by September 15th. We have few people who are not able to receive emails and we would like to communicate with them via our newsletter.

If this is your first meeting, please send the following information:

  • Name:
  • Organization:
  • Interest:
  • Phone number:
  • Email address:
  • A paragraph about who you are.

If you have friends who may be interested to join us, don’t hesitate to share this invitation with them. The purpose of our meetings is to create a core group of people who are interested in carrying Korczak’s legacy in the USA.  We all have a desire to do something with the information we have. By creating a working group, we find support, creative ideas and energy to move the work forward.

For the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA.

Mariola Strahlberg

www.shiningmtnforkids.com

845-425-7243