From the ashes of blitzed Syria has emerged another everyday hero, rising to the challenges of the conflict and taking that extra step to assist his fellow human beings. Rami Adham, the 44 year-old, Finnish-Syrian father of 6, has been delivering toys to the besieged children of Syria for the last 5 years. As well as delivering various forms of aid, including vital food, blankets and medicines, Rami decided to begin bringing toys with him on the insistence of one of his daughters who wanted to donate her toys to children in Syria. As of September, 2016, he had personally made 28 trips into Syria. As well as the aid, the organization with which Rami works have built 4 schools offering education for almost 3,000 children in Syria.
Risking it All
Rami returns to the province that he left back in 1989, Aleppo, to deliver aid given to him or purchased by him personally, delivering it to those who need it the most personally. There’s no middlemen or third party. On delivering the toys, Rami told CNN earlier this month that it’s been, “the best thing I’ve done in my whole life…taking these toys from Finland, the most safe country in the world, taking it all the way to the most dangerous country in the world, the message that holds, it’s undescribable (sic).“
Rami credits his ability to access the most troubled areas of Syria with the fact that unlike larger aid organisations, bureaucracy and procedures do not bind him. As one man, he can chose to bypass procedure and throw caution to the wind, electing to risk his own life. The dangers are gravely real; he has had to dodge sniper fire and the sound of bombs are never too far away.
For Rami it goes beyond merely arranging for aid to be delivered; he wants to be the one delivering it, “I want to meet them, I want to show them that we care for them, they are not left alone…my responsibility is to show them that I am there with them…as long as they’re willing to take the risk, I’m willing to take the risk. Their blood is not more precious than mine”. Due to the closed border, Rami has had to take various risky back-roads to get to his destination. This has meant walking for 16 hours, carrying the toys with him, just to see to it that they reach Syria’s children.
The Power of a Toy
In the understandable chaos and the ensuing effort to see to it that Syrians are getting the essentials (food, medicine, shelter), it’s easy to imagine how perceived luxuries such as toys can be forgotten. But toys are not in fact a luxury for children, they’re an essential. While they don’t necessarily relate to the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the physiological, they can very much be related to the next three rungs; safety, love/belonging and esteem.
Going beyond this, toys and play help in the development of a child’s creative capacities. We might think of creativity as being married only to art but it goes much beyond that, playing a critical role in a wide variety of things, including but not limited to: formulating solutions to both academic and life challenges, social interaction with others, the ability to empathise with those around us and so on. Perhaps even more importantly, the power of toys lie in the simple fact that children just love them so much. And the children of Aleppo and Syria as a whole have had very little to look forward to in life over the past 5 and a half years.
The Power of Joy
Consider for a moment the sad fact that there are 5 year olds in Syria who have never known life without war, bombs, death and danger. Their whole existence has been steeped in this conflict and it’s horrendous fall-out. Heroes like Rami are putting their lives on the line just to bring a smile to a generation of children who have largely been deprived of laughter. Laughter, happiness and that feeling of being excited are gifts that no child should be deprived of. God bless and protect this big-hearted man and his crucial mission. Could there be a bigger act of charity than putting a smile on the face of oppressed children and helping raise their spirits?