A Boy From Douma - by Kinda Hibrawi

Last winter during our Zeitouna mission, I met a shy, ten-year-old boy named Moaz from Douma, a Damascus suburb, on the Syrian-Turkish border. Whenever one of our mentors asked him where he was from, they would be stunned by the fact that this young Syrian boy had traveled so far from home to seek refuge in the town of Reyhanli.

Out of a group of fifth-graders I affectionately called “my boys,” Moaz was one of my favorites. He came to school every day with his hair perfectly combed to the side and his jeans pressed just right so you could see the crisp creases. When the electricity went out at the school during one of our writing workshops, he pulled out his little flashlight from his book bag so he could keep writing. He refused to stop. So I held up my cell phone light to his notepad to help free his hand so he could write with ease.

I saw Moaz again last November. He was taller and thinner than the winter before. His face had gained a maturity that didn’t match his age, and his eyes were tired with worry, like many of the children who have been refugees for years now. But he still smiled politely. He still came to school with his combed hair and pressed jeans, ready for school where he could be just a normal kid for a few precious hours.

Yesterday, I thought of Moaz while I watched the horrific news coming from Douma. I’m grateful he is safe with his family while his city is being leveled and its people are being buried in the rubble. After four years of war, these are the kinds of things Syrians are thankful for: a boy, my boy, is safe, while dozens of other boys were not lucky enough to be refugees are dead. 

I ask you to look up the hashtag #Douma_Exterminated on Twitter. There are no words to express the brutality and inhumanity of the graphic images. Don’t turn away from Syria’s suffering. And please remember Moaz and the millions of Syrian children who deserve your compassion.