Many kids are trapped in Syria, caught in the conflict. They feel ignored, as the media focuses more on Daesh or the refugees who were able to leave. We are helping give the kids under siege a voice to be heard. Teaching them how to reach out.
The UN estimates there are some 4.5 million still living in difficult to reach parts of Syria - of which 400,000 are under siege. These people aren’t extremists, they are just average people caught in conflict, trying to survive. Without hope of a better future, though, even the most balanced person might be tempted to violence. Our partners are working to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Since 2012 SalamaTech has helped non-violent Syrians stay safe online and make their voices heard. In providing Emergency Tech support, we assist Syrians who have been arrested or had their accounts hacked. We encourage Syrian civil society organisations to operate securely with Digital Safety Audits and Real-Time Remediation. Our network of Information Freedom Champions provide in situ Be Heard training to support people caught by conflict inside Syria. Together we are empowering a chorus of Voices of Resilience - who will be heard.
In our work with Syrians trapped under siege, we learned about a little girl name Maram who was hearing impaired. Because of the siege, Maram ran out of batteries for her hearing aid. She couldn’t hear when planes were flying over, she couldn’t hide from bombs. Maram’s life was doubly in danger. And this made us want to create a program to help these non-violent Syrians trapped by the siege be heard and find help. And the concept of the Tale of Two Cities initiative was born, to try and bridge the divide.
At the same time, we looked around at the kids closer to home. In Ontario, high school students must complete volunteer hours. That’s quite the luxury, to be told to do volunteer hours for school. It was a major contrast to how youth like Maram in Darayya are living - who 5 years ago were middle class, and had similar opportunities to kids here. A Tale of Two Cities emerged as a way to connect youth in Syria and abroad, providing a bridge to help those under siege, while also helping youth here learn that the world is not always fair, or safe, and that we are blessed and should do what we can for those in need.
Kids are the future everywhere. What they learn and experience shapes tomorrow. We felt it was important to contribute that foundation - and we are lucky enough to have the networks to do that.