By BANA ALABED
Did you know that the war in Syria has killed about five hundred thousand people, and many more are still getting hurt and dying every day?
Many families like mine had no choice but to leave the country we love to go to other places where we are refugees. Some people say that they don’t want refugees in their country. They want them to go home, even though they have no home anymore. Or to go somewhere else, even though the people “somewhere else” might not welcome them either. But there is no place else for people to go. If you had no country or your parents or children were going to be killed, what would you do?
When you go to someone’s house in Syria, we welcome you as if you are family and share whatever we have, like tea or sweets. That is how I wish it could be if someone comes to your country—that you share with them and help them and try to understand what they have been through.
People in Turkey have been nice to my family, and I am grateful for that. We are lucky, because some refugees from Syria and other places have to live in camps. Some camps are crowded, and there is not enough food or medicine and people have nothing to do all day, like work or school.
I went to visit a camp in Reyhanlı, Turkey, and they are trying to make a nice place for people to live, but it’s still not the same as having a home. I went to visit an orphanage in Gaziantep, Turkey, and there were more than 25 children there whose parents had died in the war. I am so lucky that I still get to have both of my parents. But many children don’t get to have them. And children are still dying and getting hurt every day—like Abdulbaset Ta’an, a little boy I visited in the hospital who is almost the same age as me and lost his legs to a bomb.
It is not right that people have to live in camps, or live in fear all the time, or see their friends and family die, or live without clean water or food or a home. And when you know something is not right, you have to fix it. We all have to help one another, no matter what country we live in.
I am helping people by bringing attention to war and how bad it is—especially for children. You can help too. You could help by giving money to people who are helping Syrians, like organisations that are working to help the plight of refugees.
Or you could talk to other people in your country and write letters to your presidents, prime ministers, and politicians and ask them to help. Or you could be nice to a refugee family and see if they need help learning about their new country. Remember, they are homesick.
You could also pray or make a wish, like when you blow out birthday candles or throw a penny into a fountain. I turned eight while I was working on my book, so I got to make a wish when I was blowing out my candles.
It was hard to decide on only one wish, because I have many, like:
I want to never have to hear or see a bomb again.
I want to be able to go home to live in Aleppo one day.
I want a baby sister.
I want to go to school and to university.
But most of all, I want people to stop fighting with bombs and guns in Syria and all over the world.
I want there to please be peace.
I am now eight-years-old, and this is my wish.