“After three years of conflict and turmoil, Syria is now one of the most dangerous places on Earth to be a child,” concludes the report by UNICEF. (Feb. 11, 2014) "..at least 10,000 children have been killed. The real number is likely to be even higher.”
According to an article this week in Newsweek Frontiers Without Medicine, 60% of the hospitals or clinics in Syria have been damaged or destroyed, and 50% of the doctors have fled the country. Children are dying at an alarming rate due to curable diseases. No medical care, vaccines or drugs are available in so many of these war-torn areas. Newborns in incubators are dying as power is cut by bombing. Sadly, many more are dying of starvation in areas that are blocked from receiving any humanitarian aid by both the Syrian army and the rebels. It is estimated that at least one million children live in areas under siege.
Doctors Without Borders or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) "stands for an impartial humanitarian action, independent from all political, economic and religious powers." (Wikipedia) The Nobel Prize-winning nonprofit organization of volunteer doctors and medical personnel is one of the groups currently working in Northern Syria at great personal risk. Four of their personnel were kidnapped in January, and 34 members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (Red Cross) have been killed since the war started. Doctors Without Borders needs our financial support (even though the doctors are volunteers money is needed for equipment and supplies), as does Save The Children, UNICEF, and Oxfam, who are all contributing to the desperate needs of these children. I'm sure there are more humanitarian groups who would welcome our donations.
This past weekend I had four of my grandchildren visiting. As I observed their health and well-being, I realized how blessed our family is. Not only do these children have more than enough of the basic needs like food, shelter, and medical care, but they also are fortunate to be born in the United States to families with the ability to give them many if not all of the luxuries in life. Most of them have televisions in their rooms, smart phones, electronic tablets, computers, the latest fads in clothing.. and all get their own vehicles when they come of age. Glasses, braces, musical instruments, as well as music and dance lessons, which are luxuries for many children, are available to my grandchildren.
Which reminds me. My youngest grandchild, Kelly, who is in the second grade, has shown an unusual interest in playing music. Her mother inherited a lovely piano from a grandmother. Since Kelly was a toddler, she has been fascinated with this piano, and even started playing her own little "tunes" - some of which were quite melodious. During a recent visit by her older cousin Cameron, he started to teach her music. He went so far as to put the musical notes on the piano keys for her, and she has been teaching herself to play. Mom and Dad have now lined up piano lessons for her to begin in the near future.
This grandmommy doesn't have a piano, but I have quite an assortment of rattles, a tambourine, Indian drums, an African tongue drum, and even a couple of "Indian" flutes - small wooden flutes. Kelly has always loved the sound of these flutes, and pulls them out at every opportunity to make a little music. When she found out her school teacher plays the flute, she began to pester her dad for a "real" flute. After searching the internet, Matthew finally found an affordable one for a beginner. Since that time, Kelly has been watching videos online to learn to play the flute! She has not yet mastered the lip placement to get a lovely sound, but she's close. Then she can work on her hand placements! She won't go to a school that offers music lessons until she reaches Middle School, however, as determined as this smart little miss is, I believe shewill make "real" music long before then. She will make the fifth of my seven grandchildren to play a musical instrument.
Kelly is amazing in her understanding of adult ideas, and her ability to give her opinion on subjects that many adults fail to recognize never ceases to surprise me. Recently she and brother Travis spent the night, and at dinner she was excitedly telling me about a trip to Dallas they made. They spent the night next door to a family who had chickens in their back yard. I explained to her that those were what we call "free range" chickens, and that in the past all of our eggs and chickens came from that source. I told her and her brother that now most of our eggs come from chickens who spend their entire lives in little cages. Kelly immediately jumped in and told me in no uncertain terms, "Well, they need to change that rule!" We may have a future vegetarian in our family. At the very least, another animal rights activist.
Kelly gave me a sticker made from a self-portrait she did in art recently. She told me that she got the background from the movie "Tangled". (I'm afraid I haven't heard of that one.) When I complimented her on her drawing, she unabashedly told me that she and another girl were the best artists in her class. I love the self-confidence this beloved child has gained from her loving family.
Love all the children.. and may we help end the suffering of those who aren't so blessed.