A few thoughts from Alice’s diary

Thursday 3rd August 2017

Today on the radio was Crossing Continents. The BBC correspondent Mike Thomson described the siege of East Aleppo and the advance of Syrian government forces on the rebel-held area. Through his intermittent phone contact with Head teacher, Om Modar, we hear the experiences of her and her family as they resist leaving Aleppo, eventually being forced to do so, and later making the decision to go back. Mike’s attempts to contact Om by mobile phone over a period of months and years are dependent on the occasional signal and Om’s opportunity to charge her phone. She goes to the hospital in the midst of a bombardment to find electricity for her phone and ends up cleaning up the blood soaked floor. Om’s voice and those of her children are heard in the moments of crisis. Her husband is an artist. I long to know more.

Later I joined English Chat, an informal small group in Winchester run by a wonderful team of local women. They encourage conversation and community with a group of Syrian women. This lively group of beautiful smiling women with their children, who discussed simple vocabulary of the geography of islands, fossils and geology. They are welcoming me as part of their group and I feel humbled. They have sent me kind welcoming messages on WhatsApp.

L said that she had done a translation into Arabic for an English charity that supports individual start initiatives in the Middle East. She said, how happy this made her feel as it represented a way she could contribute something back.

I am profoundly affected by the relentless plight of families enduring the crisis of displacement and loss of home. I am privileged to come closer to this through the people I am meeting. The media offers us a place as uncomfortable spectator, watching the stories of suffering whilst impotent to do anything.

It seems imperative to acknowledge what is happening and offer something back. L expressed my purpose; to pay tribute, to care.