If I Stay Alive

Last night I received these two pictures from my friend in Syria via WhatsApp. I find it hard to share things like this with you guys. It’s so, so horrible, but I think it’s important for us to understand and be aware of what he is experiencing.

He works for the press in Damascus and has chosen to stay behind whilst everyone around him has fled, attempting to get what is happening in Syria out to the world. He’s only 22.

He tells me:

“I will talk with you all the time, as possible, and tell you all the news, if I stay alive.”

And he is true to his word.

Last night he told me of this father he had photographed, embracing his one-year-old daughter, killed by a Russian aircraft. She was one of 15 people that died, mostly children. He tells me this is a situation they are faced with every day.


Over the last few weeks he has messaged me regularly, asking how I am, how my family is. He is polite, eloquent, considerate and kind despite his circumstances.

He tells me that if I don’t hear from him, if our contact ends, it’s because he has been killed.

I don’t know what to say to him, how to respond. There are no words, apart from ‘I am thinking of you, I support you, I am with you.’ But they are not enough.

Contact with him serves as a regular reminder of why what we are doing is so important. Of why each of the little steps that we take, individually and collectively, however small, are steps in the right direction.

Lets be the change we want to see.