Child and baby in Bosra

I was in Syria for only one week in 1993. A long time ago.  Every time I transcribe another section of the diary I kept for that week in 1993 I am saddened. I wonder what happened to the people I met. The children I saw then may be scattered refugees now, or grieving the loss of their own children or struggling to keep them safe and warm. Something I can say and know but which I struggle to understand. 

The Syrian people I met were welcoming, friendly and proud of their culture. Visitors were welcomed as a sign that their country, which had been shunned by many in the West, was once again opening up to the world and my hosts were proud of what they could offer.

These friendly people didn't expect to be torn apart by war, the people I met thought they could use their history and their antiquities to build a future including tourism, welcome the world and improve their lot.

Now their homeland has been destroyed, sites of world heritage like Palmyra razed, great cities like Aleppo in ruins,  agriculture and industry damaged,  public services severely limited. Houses reduced to shells, homes torn apart, medicines in short supply. The Syrians don't deserve to be refugees or victims of war any more than you or I.

If you think it can't happen here, wherever you are, think again. In 1993 the problems hitting the headlines were in the Balkans. The Bosnians didn't think it could have happened there either.

I remember how cold I was when I arrived in Aleppo. Now it is snowing. 

Wealth, privilige and status doesn't protect against the harsh realities of winter if your house has been bombed, your possessions burned and you water supply cut off. People are people and have the same needs everywhere.  Whether you were rich, poor or just comfortable you feel the cold, get hungry and fall ill.  Owning a mobile phone or wearing a branded pair training shoes doesn't mean you can't be in genuine need or become a refugee. 

No one choses where they are born. Imagine for a moment it was happening to you. What would you want besides peace? Shelter, a blanket against the cold, somewhere safe for your kids, a future for your kids.

Please help. You can search for charities and organisations helping families in Syria. Here are just a few to start with.