I recently came across an article titled “Millionth Child Flees Syria” on Yahoo News. The picture under the headline was one of a young girl, with dark circles under her eyes, staring hauntingly at the camera. She’s pretty, too, with curly brown hair that many people try to imitate using hair gel. In the West—perhaps in Canada—she would be going to school in a few years, wearing nice clothes and hanging out with friends. She might meet even meet a guy.
If she lived here in Oakville, she could do all of that, and more. But she’s in Jordan, sitting in a mobile home at a refugee camp. She’s wearing a blue blanket, and her candid expression shows nothing but distrust for everything that has come her way. And you could hardly blame her—over 100,000 people have been killed in Syria’s bloodbath since March 2011, with half being innocent, helpless civilians like her.
Her picture, and even more so the quote “we cried so many times”, made me think about all the things that I have taken for granted in my life. How many times have we cried over something that we believe to be so utterly important, and yet so insignificant when compared to this little girl’s predicament?
Every time I read an article like “Millionth Child Flees Syria”, I feel the need to start an awareness campaign, donate to a charity, etc. But then comes another article, with a similarly horrid issue in need of fixing. In ninth grade, I often found myself lost in trying to do too many things, and yet not knowing what to focus on. So despite the saying “the ocean is made up of tiny droplets”, I don’t think everyone should feel obligated to donate or start a foundation upon reading an article. Instead, I think that everyone can choose to contribute in his or her own way. Like me—I choose to write.
And even without contributing to the cause, we can make use of the gift that we have been given. We live in a first world country with clean drinking water and machines that let us instantly communicate with friends on the other side of the world. We don’t have a rampant dictatorship looming over our heads, nor do we have fighter planes dropping bombs in our neighbourhood. And for the most part, we have families that are intact, and family members that are alive.
I try to live everyday with the goal of not taking anything for granted. Whether it’s smiling at a stranger on the road or helping my mother with groceries, I think it’s important to appreciate the different people in my life. And as a student, whether it’s taking full advantage of the education system or exploring the many different potential career options, I will remember the little girl who might never have the chance to do that.
Chelsea Liu is a high school senior in Canada.
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