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On July 10, 7 year old Sarah and her family were on their way to visit her sister in the government-controlled city of Jericho in the Syrian province of Idlib. When their car reached a steep hill, Sarah and her mother got out of the car to walk, and at that moment she was shot in the neck by a sniper.
When Sarah fell, her father saw the blood coming from her neck and started screaming.
Since the escalation of events in Syria, Sarah and her parents have fled to Jordan, and was close to the Jordanian-Syrian border when I met her.
I went to the Red Crescent as a volunteer to provide humanitarian service to the children and alleviate their suffering. Through fieldwork as a volunteer and our visit to the Syrian families, I met Sarah and her parents.
Sarah was lying down on a bed, extremely pale and almost entirely paralysed. She had only limited movement in her arms and couldn't stretch her fingers. During the home visit I tried to ease her suffering and I could see that through her childhood innocence she was yearning for help. During our discussions, I was really trying not to lose hope. I tried making sure her sadness would not overwhelm her, and help her accept what happened to her, otherwise her life would be very difficult
When I was talking to her father, Radwan, who was struggling to cope with the tragedy of his fifth daughter of seven children. "I feel as if something is going on in my heart," says the man. "I ask God to avenge this system. They do not have any values.” I tried to calmly discuss with him about this tragic incident. I explained to him that it is not just his daughter who is suffering. Throughout Syria, countless people are killed and injured in battles.
The Red Crescent branch, an independent association in my region, is mainly funded by international organisations and is assisting refugees. The volunteers at the Red Crescent have come together for a common cause and to help the Syrian refugees. In Sarah's story, she became paralysed. Many other children have lost their eyes, limbs or suffer serious injuries that will afflict their lives. The majority of the casualties are civilians, as is the case with Sarah and her parents, who are the innocent victims of the prolonged conflict in Syria and the collateral damage of a barbaric, self-deprecating war that does not know humanity and does not know the meaning of innocence.
In my long conversation, Sarah tells me that her neighbour, Amna Shabib, sixty-five years old, a mother of seven and grandmother of countless grandchildren. She was harvesting olives in her village in Idlib when a shell exploded near her. The shrapnel penetrated the tree she was in, and threw her off the ladder. She broke her back and could not walk again.
Sarah retains those painful memories. Whenever she tries to turn over a new page in her life, she only finds stories of broken hearts, stories of life destroyed, stories of people who have no power and who are reliant on Western visitors .
The story of Sarah, one of many stories of Syrian children denied the experience of childhood and education, and turned them into "small refugees" at the mercy of circumstances greater than them and their families.
The story of Sarah is a series of episodes in a "series of nightmares" that began four years ago in Syria. Everyone knows how it began, but they do not know the title, nor the story of the next episodes. But what is logical, is that the place of the natural child, even in Syria, is in the school and home, where the warmth and tenderness exists.
I am waiting for the end of these episodes of tragedy, and hope for children like Sarah.
Written by Ms Alaa Atef Jabali, Volunteer with the the Jordanian Red Crescent - Ajloun Branch.