In Mrs. Edwards 5th grade class we were all assigned to write an essay about answering our main inquiry question. Here is mine:
In Syria, the civil war is ongoing at this moment, 2019. This war will not wait for the Syrians to eat or sleep. Syrians can’t go to the grocery store or run to their friends’ houses without fear. The war started in 2011 and is going into its 8th year anniversary. More than five million people have fled the country, and virtually no one has legally gotten into the US. For my Capstone project, Syrian refugees, I came up with a main inquiry question: What is the history of the Syrian refugee crisis, how has it impacted the children involved, and what can people do to help?
The Syrian war started in 2011 with a series of anti-government protests called the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring spread across North Africa and the Middle East. A revolutionary wave of protests and conflicts broke out and collapsed many authoritarian regimes in many countries including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. But Bashar Al Assad, the President of Syria, refused to step down. Assad started a brutal civil war. Soon, ISIS, a militaristic, jihadist group, saw an opportunity and entered the chaos with the goal of building a totalitarian Islamic caliphate.
The reason the civil war has gone on so long in Syria is because it has larger and stronger countries supporting each of the sides. Russia and Iran are supporting Syria’s current government because Assad allows them to have military influence in the region. The US is supporting the rebellion because the current Syrian government attacks its own people with chemical weapons and has supported Hezbollah, which is an armed military group that has opposed peace efforts with Israel. Today, groups in Syria are still fighting, and many Syrians are fleeing to countries nearby such as Lebanon.
The Syrian Civil War has affected children through direct violence, the idea that violence is normal, and memories that have changed their lives. First, Syrian children have been directly affected by violence. Waheba Kabood, a Syrian refugee, said that her neighbor’s three year old cousin was in the street playing with a friend when all of a sudden a bomb came flying out of nowhere and hit his friend. The boy ran, and his friend lay in the street. After that, no child played in the street. Second, children have become accustomed to the idea that violence is normal. For example, seven year old Bana was playing with her dolls, and her friend asked casually if the doll was afraid of the bombing. Bana said that the doll was, and that the other doll liked chocolate. This girl was so scarred by the war that bombings and shootings have become as normal part of life as chocolate. Third, children have been affected through memories that have changed their life. Two Syrian refugee children, now living in Maryland, were put in a school for refugee children and were making a toy village in the sand. The girl asked the boy if there were bombings in the village, and they both started laughing and decided to put some houses on their sides representing the fact that the bombs that had been there. This is interesting because these children tried to bring back the spirit of Syria with them to Maryland, but they don’t know how to do that other than through war.
There are many ways to help the people affected by the Syrian civil war – through charities that support refugees, through contributing to businesses that refugees start, and through being informed. Jusoor is a nonprofit organization that helps Syrians inside and outside of Syria with education and economic development. The International Rescue Committee provides lifesaving support to close to 1 million people in Syria by providing health care, safety centers, and job training. Save the Children allows people to sponsor children in Syria. In addition to charities, you can help Syrian refugees by contributing to their businesses or helping them get jobs. The reason helping Syrian refugees get jobs is important because immigrants have a hard time getting traditional jobs. Sometimes, they don’t know the language, and most of the time, they don’t have strong network of connections. Finally, being informed about the Syrian civil war is important because the US is playing a huge role in Syria. One way to be informed is looking at news articles about the war.
It’s easy to feel helpless because of the fact that we are humans and we can’t just snap our fingers and the war is over. Personally, that also makes me feel angry and frustrated, but we have to realize that the Syrian civil war along with multiple problems that my generation has is important, and the most important problems in the world have the hardest solutions. So, let me give you this idea to carry with you through life: if we all do what we think is possible and necessary we might be able to end wars.