Support Syria’s Children with Watanili

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Here’s something not everyone knows about me: While I may seem tough, silly, sarcastic, jaded, unemotional, or some crazy combination of all those traits, it’s because when I actually DO feel things, I feel them so deeply that it’s completely disarming. No, I don’t cry about sentimental crap (at least, not in front of people), because I prefer to pick and choose my battles. There is one cause, however, that I have absolutely chosen to be passionate about because 1) it’s important, 2) it’s relevant, and 3) to turn a blind eye to this issue would be nothing short of inhumane.

While social media has been blowing up with headlines about Miley Cyrus, Donald Trump, and people talking about how Jesus is coming back this month, a huge injustice has been taking place overseas – a surge of refugees seeking asylum from war-torn countries. You know what annoys me? People in the United States are just NOW getting wind of the situation, and so many are still oblivious to what’s going on and what they can do to help.

To sum it up, I’ll quote Angelina Jolie from her briefing with the UNHCR earlier this spring:

Nearly four million Syrian refugees are victims of a conflict they have no part in.

The Syrian conflict began in 2011; yet, for whatever reason, it garnered little to no attention. Now, with recent photos surfacing of children’s bodies washing up on beaches, people are seeing the severity of the refugee crisis. If you’re on Periscope, you can even tune in to Mark Stone’s broadcasts (associated with Sky News) to see large groups of refugees in places like Germany and Hungary, camping out in the middle of the streets or hiding in empty fields, in an effort to seek asylum.

Think of what happens to us westerners when a hospital, school, or even movie cinema is targeted by a bomb or psychotic gunman. It shakes our country to the core, and people are left in disbelief that such a violent act can take place on our soil. But for the people of Syria, these types of events happen every… single… day. No parent would ever put their child’s life at risk, taking illegal caravans and crossing bodies of water, if they didn’t have to. For these refugees, risking death is their best option.

Being on the other side of the world, it’s easy to feel detached. And we have the privilege of pretending none of it is going on. But if you do choose to open your eyes and pay attention, it’s difficult not to feel completely helpless by this overwhelming situation – not to mention, frustrated that the world’s richest countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar have done nothing to help these people. (Pops to Germany, Austria, Lebanon and Turkey for taking in so many refugees, by the way.) But if you listened to the podcast I recorded with my friend Anisa, you would have heard her discussing a wonderful grassroots organization that gives us ALL the chance to help displaced Syrian children and provide some relief through art therapy – Watanili.

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What I love about the Watanili organization is their focus on using creative methods to educate, comfort, and alleviate the distress that these beautiful babies have experienced. Not only are they providing a safe environment for refugees, but they’re giving them the tools to express themselves in a healthy and productive manner, which will undoubtedly benefit them as they grow up. I’m also excited to announce the arrival of a much-anticipated event that will be taking place in London this Sunday, September 6th.

The Souq for Syria will be held at Rich Mix London, which will recreate a souq (marketplace) modeled after the ones that have been destroyed in Syria. There will be music, arts and crafts for sale, and even signed photographs by my friend and former classmate, Jude Abadi. (Yes, she’s SUCH a badass photographer that she needs to actually sign her work.) With the efforts I’ve seen Jude and Anisa put into this incredible cause, I couldn’t be more proud of my fellow London loves, and honored just to be able to spread the word. I’m also heartbroken that I won’t be able to attend in person.

Fortunately, there IS a way that I – and all the rest of you non-Londoners – can help out. Visit Watanili’s INDIEGOGO site and make a donation. You can see exactly what your money will be spent on, and how your donation (no matter how big or small) can make a difference in the lives of these little ones. Even if we can’t save them all, we can make sure that the ones we DO save have a better chance for a bigger and brighter future.

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