I saw her for the first time over a week back, in a photo she had uploaded on twitter, her hair was tied beautifully into pigtails and her face wore a smile, with a few teeth missing. Bana Alabed is a seven-year-old Syrian girl, who has attained internet fame after she and her mom started live tweeting what was happening around them in Aleppo.
Aleppo is perhaps one of the worst struck cities in the war torn country and the plight of its children is only worse. The rubble that fills its streets from aerial bombings is mixed with the corpses of innocents. Only earlier this month, media reports said that all of Aleppo’s hospitals were bombed. All of them. And before that news had poured in, all one would get to see in the news was – distraught fathers or rescue workers carrying the bodies of toddlers who were covered in blood and dust.
And that immediately reminds you of Omar Daqneesh, the Aleppo boy, whose photo became viral and caught everybody’s attention. The video of him sitting like an alive corpse in an ambulance, dazed from the bombings that destroyed his neighbourhood had made even the most hard-hearted journalist wince.
But Bana Alabed is bringing to the world images of normal life that her family was struggling to attain amid the explosions and death. The photo pinned to her twitter page is fresh and filled with feel good innocence – she is sitting at a desk reading a children’s book, a doll dressed in a pink dress can be seen behind her smiling face. But the message that accompanies the photo is ominous –
On November 28, the seven-year-old announced to the world what had been happening to thousands of Syrian families – her home was destroyed in a bombing. I saw the tweet on my Twitter feed and could not express what I felt, only thinking, that a young child should not be experiencing things like this. The tragic news was the among the first few things I read this Monday.
Millions of children around the world are continuously being robbed off their childhood, not just by war, but by hunger, abuse, rape, child marriage and what not.
Just a few days ago, Bana was reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and playing with her dolls, but the bombings have made her toys and books part of Aleppo’s growing rubble.
The United Nations has failed to save the children of Syria. And people like us, who lead a sheltered life in a safe neighbourhood, the least we could do is not let the tales of these children die unheard.