Sunday, December 13, 2015

You had me at مع السلامة

Malak is aged four. She and her younger brother Rakan and their mother Yasmine live in a tent in Akkar, just across the Lebanese-Syrian border, having escaped after being bombed out of their home in the Homs district of Baba Amar.

Malak has been diagnosed with thalassemia, a rare blood disorder somehow like a super-anaemia. Bloody hell, eh. Frequent blood transplants needed. Any blood transplants, unavailable. Regular treatment, now running into thousands of unavailable dollars. UNHCR guidance? Others need help better. Oh, okay. Oh.

Every tale's a tragedy, of course. Every journalist ought to remain impassive, bigger picture and everything. This was the second time back in very similar circumstances, back in Lebanon towards Syria, albeit with Assad now exacerbated. And yet, and yet... Everything's dispiriting. Individual things even somehow even more so.

So much of such misery and, well, eye-opening to witness all anxiety  - to be here and there and everywhere. Seeing how some still hope for home, others seem resigned to settling (safely) for life in Lebanon, (a) few yet eye Europe - at the very least for a bit of better-promising medical assistance. Until/even if such an idea gets battered right back. Oof. And ouch, and then some.

So may say the UNHCR, the registering offices over the border from Syria here, no matter what agency efforts are advocated in between by such as tirelessly spreading Save The Children. Who do nevertheless do more than their best in the meantime - winter-proofing, feeding, representing, reassuring. There goes DfiD cash as well: ta muchly to Britain, the third-biggest donor to Syria aid efforts, behind only the US and the EU. Kind of kind. Oh, but only going so far... So far, so sad.

No, no aid goes anywhere near nor far enough. Whether there nor closer here. So many heartaching tales are to be told, and will be and are informed far more finely than these jabs here, while any analysis and geopolitics and realpolitik and all such authoritative opinions will be better done elsewhere. Personal answers/opinions? No, dunno.

And yet, and yet ... admittedly wept all the way awhile, that last flight home from somewhere just so adrift and almost abandoned but for the odd aid agency going so (well-organisedly) beyond the call.

And, yes, for all so many so tragic tales ... that one little girl just haunts. Maybe it's a little self-indulgently due to a passing resemblance to a niece, how she too might - by the grace of whatever - have ended so innocently jaundiced, weakened, sapped of spirit in every sense.

... and yet, for all that this littl'un and her family have found themselves well-meaningly goggled upon by abruptly-arriving Westerners, Press and Press officers and actual advisers and all, it felt encouraging that she should be suddenly summoned by a passing schoolbus.

Whisper it, but this four-year-old ought not to have been allowed into one of Lebanon's few after-noon classes for Syrian refugee kids. And yet her far-sighted doctors secured a special place, purely for her, er, fellow-feeling of friends and camaraderie. Get in, there, girl - appreciate those pals.

And then, and then ... she did yet turn back, for one more respectful pose, and also an instinctive wave of the hand. To who? To me? To us all? To a world around, whatever it is, whatever it's doing, just whatever?

Too cute, too moving.
Impassive yet instinctive.
Sorrowful yet dutiful.
Accepting (,) everything.

That wave still sets off some pathetic weeping.
While wishing such sappiness could not only set off stuff but swap this worthless waste of an abjectly helpless, hapless life in favour of someone so innocently at risk of losing what little there has been of hers.
Or of others, so many, so similar.

So easy to say, sure.
So sorry to say.
So sorry to see. And remember, ever.

Wave on, Malak.
Just so sorry - wish you were here.

You had me at مع السلامة

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I won't be the only person to well up reading this piece. Journalistic objectivity can be overrated, sometimes. Have to take issue with one paragraph, though - a life in which a person brings the plight of these desperate people (and their individual stories - so important) to wider attention is the very opposite of wasted. Keep caring - and keep writing.