First Person Blog

Voices, video, and photos from Oxfam's fight against poverty

What boyhood looks like in Syria right now

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A video that shows us what it’s like to grow up in a dark place—and how we can help turn on the lights.

No matter where you are in life, be present and pay attention: That’s the lesson I took from seeing the  movie Boyhood recently. The award-winning film beautifully captured the preciousness of each moment we experience by presenting 12 years in the life of a child in the US as he grows into young adulthood.

The brief video above captures a very different coming-of-age story, and I think it’s one worthy of as much of our attention. The boy depicted here has grown up amidst one of the worst conflicts of our time and the film reflects the reality faced by so many children.

As a hope-filled Arab Spring swept through the Middle East, conflict broke out in Syria, leading to a descent into darkness. Four years of violent conflict have now left more than 200,000 dead and half of Syria’s population in need of emergency aid.  Today, 5.6 million children are in need of aid, a 31 percent increase since 2013.

Those numbers can be difficult to comprehend for those of us who remain so distant from this crisis. It’s hard to imagine what that really looks like. In watching a video like this, we’re shown how it looks through the eyes of one boy. We catch a glimpse of that reality.

And we’re reminded of something else, too. I think Gandhi said it best, “For I can see that in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists.”

What does that light look like in Syria? It is the actions of volunteers, like the act of compassion depicted in this video, who every day risk their lives to save others. It is the light that local aid workers bring as they provide emergency supplies to those within Syria and the millions of refugees outside its borders. And it’s the light that we can help bring through our action as a global community—to support Syrians in need with our donations and to stand #WIthSyria by speaking up and speaking out.


Use your voice: urge President Obama and Secretary Kerry to help end the bloodshed in Syria. Sign the petition >

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