I often get caught up in life’s daily cycle, and if I hear or see something sad, tragic or horrific which is happening a continent away, I tend to feel sorry at the time; yet somehow manage to push it to the back of my mind and conveniently forget about it. It is not that I do not care, or that I have not been moved by the plight of another human being; it is simply because it does not affect me.
This changed after watching an interview on the plight of children fleeing Syria, over the border into the Lebanon. I want to introduce you to Amin, an eight year old Syrian boy whose mother pushed him over the border into the Lebanon by himself, because she was desperate to save his life. Amin was one of five children, and is the youngest. Up until that point he tended to his parent’s sheep, a job he loved and enjoyed. Caught up in a bitter conflict, with no end in sight and with the death of his father, Amin’s mother felt she had no choice but to let her youngest son take his chances in a country which was at peace.
This brave little boy faced all kinds of dangers in Beirut where the life of a refugee was cheap. Living by his wits alone, he spent his days and evenings on the streets selling flowers, often working up to ten hours per day. He thought he was lucky because he was able to share a mattress with a family who were kind enough to let him have shelter. Yes, he thought he was lucky.
Amin’s story is one of heartache, pain and suffering made more poignant by the fact that he is only eight years old. He is joined by thousands just like him, each with their own story, united by the fact that they are no longer children. Amin clings to the hope that one day he will be able to return home. When questioned, a tiny glimmer appears in his eyes, but only for a second.
These children will be the future of a country broken by war, and on their shoulders will be placed the burden of rebuilding this future. If this is to happen, however, they first and foremost need help to rebuild themselves. We are all affected by events on a daily basis which can shape and change our lives; and we all have choices to make, regardless of who we are, what we believe or where we live. Extending the helping hand has never been more needed.
Amin’s interview was almost at an end, and his final question was “Are you happy?” This little boy looked up from his place on the wall, clutching a little bunch of flowers, dressed in rags, hungry and sad. He lifted his chin, looked the journalist in the eye, and with more conviction than I have ever heard from the pulpit, simply stated “Does It Matter?"