To Syria With Love

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Gandhi said, “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.” A war that many have not heard of is raging in Syria between the Syrian Ba’ath Party and those seeking to overthrow it. The civil war has killed tens of thousands and there appears to be no end in sight. One man, a photographer and author, sought to understand what exactly is going on in Syria. His name is Russell Chapman.

 

Chapman wanted to find out what was really happening in Syria and to tell the world what he saw. He spent one month in Syria along with four weeks in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. His journey took him to the frontlines of this civil war alongside revolutionary soldiers to the destitute in refugee camps. Several times, Chapman has nearly been shot and blown apart in this journey. Yet despite the life threatening risks he was faced with, Chapman went to Syria determined. There he encountered individuals that changed his life right in the middle of a bloody war. “The people there are incredible,” said Chapman, “most are willing to share with you despite the circumstances they live in.”

 

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When I asked him about such individuals, Chapman instantly brought up the Syrian women and children that he came across in the refugee camps. Most of the Syrian children had been exposed to the horrors of war and were traumatized. Yet despite the exposure, most choose to still laugh and play. They aren’t letting a war ruin their childhood. The photo above captures the resilience of such children in a refugee camp in Bab Al Salam, Syria. Chapman described the women as tough and afraid of nothing. They are continuing to press on in their lives and like the children aren’t letting a war stop them from leading normal lives.

 

Even rebel soldiers of the Free Syrian Army are still smiling despite being on the frontlines. Chapman went to Aleppo which is the largest city in Syria and currently the frontline of the war. Just from watching the video below, it is amazing to see soldiers on the frontline still smiling and even goofing off for the camera knowing that they face death where they stand.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VVzq6W_Vr0

 

If you would like to learn more about the present conditions in Syria check out Chapman’s blog at: http://documentingsyria.wordpress.com/ and also be on the lookout for his upcoming book on Syria as well.   

 

There are three lessons we can learn from Russell Chapman.

 

One, don’t be afraid of pursuing your dreams. Chapman went to perhaps one of the most dangerous countries on earth to learn what was happening there. He sought to understand a people some of us may not want to understand. “The people that I met in Syria despite not being Christian,” said Chapman, “are more ‘Christian’ than most people that I have met outside of that country.”

 

Second, it is never impossible to smile. If these people can continue to have a zest for life, surely we can as well!

 

The final lesson is we all must pray for the conflict in Syria to cease and that all Syrians can enjoy the freedoms we enjoy. I am sad to admit that I knew nothing of this war till I talked with Chapman this week. It’s bigger than we think. It is absolutely horrible what is being done to the people over there by the current government. In my family, we always pray for those fighting for freedom around the world. I would encourage you to do the same especially for those in Syria. Be grateful for the wonderful life you have no matter how tough it can be at times. Pray that those who are fighting for such a blessed life can have it in their lifetime. 

 

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