There are many unsung heroes in Syria. We are lucky enough to work with some of them. Earlier this week, one of our colleagues near Damascus had his house hit by a mortar. The day after, he continued his work with us, as usual, helping a group of special Syrian children to create a social media campaign to have their voices heard.
Despite having half of his house destroyed, Ahmed (not his real name) continues to work tirelessly to help his fellow Syrians communicate safely and effectively. This is not the first time his house has been hit. And his suffering has been far greater: two of his brothers, also media activists in Syria, have been killed in this conflict.
Ahmed is a voice of resilience in a protracted conflict. He gives hope where every act of aggression seems determined to stamp it out. We are very honoured to be able to support him through our initiative SalamaTech.
For the past year, we have worked to foster a network of local “Information Freedom Champions” (IFCs) who deliver support and assistance to Syrians inside difficult-to-access conflict zones. Together with these brave IFCs, who put their lives at risk to help others, we are aiming to help empower a chorus of voices of resilience – who will be heard.
Our IFCs come from a variety of educational, professional and geographical backgrounds, but they share three things in common: an extensive access to Syrian non-violent actors, a solid grounding in internet safety and savvy, and an overarching desire to ensure that Syrians communicate safely and effectively online. As trusted nodes in their own personal networks, or within their own geographic enclaves, the IFCS play a critical role in reaching and supporting key project beneficiaries.
Why did Ahmed return to his SalamaTech work the day after his house was attacked? It was his passion for a new project connecting Syrian and Canadian youth. Ahmad is leading an effort that is helping Syrian youth to use the internet to tell their stories of suffering and hope. The Syrian youth are paired up with young Canadians who are eager to better understand the reality of life in Syria and to work with their new Syrian friends to together create strategic communication campaigns to share Syrian stories. Today was the first day of training for the Syrian youth following our Be Heard program.