When the world learns of a moment of crisis, one of five words come to mind: devastation, bloodshed, struggle, pain or heartache. The negative media coverage constricts the story leaving no room to consider the hopes, dreams and ambitions that shine through the eyes of survivors.
We hear the word poverty and our minds go to Nigeria or Pakistan, we hear the words political turmoil and our minds go to Syria or Ukraine, we hear the word wealth and our minds go to the United States or United Kingdom. How valid are these assumptions? Surely such stereotypes are only destructive to hopes of progress we as humans aspire to win.
When the Syrian crisis started producing figures of 10,000, 50,000, 100,000 loss of lives, the aforementioned thoughts sunk in deeply. I started searching for survival stories and found the lack of information available staggering. All I found were photographs of dead bodies, adults and children, captures of obliterated iconic architecture and scenes of what seemed like a war with no end.
How could it be that the end of each story was one of tragedy? Surely where there is heartache and pain, you will find the birthplace of strength. Empowerment, acceptance and inspiration are all recipes to an achievable dream that humans aspire to win and it is our responsibility to encapsulate these dreams and bring them to life.
I became obsessed with this notion and decided to find a means of celebrating the future of Syria. For this, I needed a Syrian voice.
At the Annual Peace Symposium organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, I met with a Syrian speaker named Hibatul Rahman who was raising awareness to councillors, peace makers, leaders and guests on how we can better support Syria. Her words left the audience in awe and many ladies went up to her pledging their support, including me.
At the same time, one of the organisers of the Peace Symposium, Nadia Agha was collecting information from other charity workers in her network on how best to tackle the Syrian crisis. It wasn’t long before Hiba, Nadia and I joined forces to form Help Create Change. We took this message and set out to create change by organising an auction and pamper afternoon by bringing ladies together in an educational and relaxing atmosphere (what is more relaxing than getting pampered?) to raise awareness of what is happening in Syria in a positive light. On 31st May, we took our guests through the history, heritage and the foundation that built the dreams of the beautiful children of Syria who we advocated as tomorrow’s change-makers. In the space of three hours, our fundraising total stood at a phenomenal £4,200.
For all three of us there was a feeling of hope for Syria that held us close together. We plastered the walls with smiling faces of children rather than ones with streams of tears, we shared stories of impact rather than ones of devastation and we shared a montage filled with creative art rather than images of the war zone.
Save The Children was one of few organisations sharing footage of Syrian children discussing their dreams and ambitions. 300,000 children are now living with food and shelter due to their exceptional efforts. Their celebration of beauty made selecting a charity for our event an easy decision.
The outcome of the event validated that if change is to be created in the world, it is by connecting on beauty and hope as that is what we as humans wish to see in our own lives. Change making abilities reside within everyone, but finding a way to celebrate something is what many fail to do.
In any situation, find that small glimmer of hope and cling on to it with a firm grasp, your following will naturally form.