Tag Archives: life

The Paris Marathon; Completed!

13 Apr

On Sunday 6th April, I ran the Paris Marathon to raise funds for Syria, and I actually finished!!

WWW.TRUTHPEACELOVE.ORG

Running the Paris Marathon!

I didn’t do any training whatsoever, it is impossible with my career to do so, and to be quite frank; I don’t like exercise, it doesn’t interest me. In all honestly, I probably have one of the unhealthiest diets, one of cake, chocolate and all that good stuff in abundance daily as most who know me well know. The only time you could catch me running would be if the patisserie was about to close and I had no sweet things left in my home. I don’t like gyms, and am no type of fitness person.

Ok, so it took me around 7.50hrs to finish, I was last, and I did injury my muscles through the marathon, and I cried like I haven’t in a long time to the end with a lot of bad words muttered between that, but I kept going and finished! I could have kept going too if my legs allowed me, from the waist up I felt great and could have kept going for days! Who would have thought it!

It also helps that I know I have an Angel above I hold on to daily guiding me and have been guided in the past year since they left this earth.

I certainly am not advising anyone to run a marathon without training, but, in having googled extensively in a panic the day before the marathon terms like ‘how to run a marathon without training’, and only feeling more scared, I felt it good to have something positive out there to say you can do it! We can do anything when we put our hearts into it. I even felt ready to stop at just 4 miles, I felt so drained and my legs were so shaky and sore already, then when I tore my muscles; well, that took it to a heightened level of pain.

Yasmin Al Tellawy - Paris Marathon

Hobbling in tears in a lot of pain through the finish!

I had a lot on my mind, personal matters that stay with me and keep me thinking & aspiring for more, and mostly Syria, thinking of all the families suffering, who need assistance, and the endless stories and situations I have witnessed there over the years.

I meet so many families that will forever stay with me, families who struggled to make it to the borders for safety, days of traveling by foot with children, no food or even water, and had to keep going to reach safety. In my low moments walking through the marathon feeling I could not go on with the pain in my legs, I felt stupid complaining & would have felt even more stupid to have stopped. There I am choosing to do this, something of which is a joy to most, an achievement, and there are people in Syria having to take a journey far greater than the 42km of the marathon just to get to safety; just to survive. Naturally that kept me going, that was the inspiration.

A couple of weeks ago I was leaving another trip in Syria and had some minor issues where I was crossing, a couple of Syrian men had come to help me out, no reasons but to just be kind… it turned out, one of the men had just traveled for 9 days, through extreme circumstances for survival and there he was wanting to help a complete stranger for no reasons at all but out of care and wanting to help one another. I asked him why with all he has going on, losing everything in Homs, the pain he was in from his troublesome journey through the country would he stop to help a complete stranger, and he just said why not, this is what we do in life. It was that simple to him and no big deal, yet a very big deal to me. This is the beauty of the true people of Syria; this is who the real people of the country are, and yet another reason of why I keep doing my work there.

I swore I would complete the marathon if it killed me, if I done so crawling, and I endeavor to be a person who certainly does all to stand by my word.

Tears of pain mixed with joy completing the Paris Marathon!

Tears of pain mixed with joy completing the Paris Marathon!

We raised $4000 for Syrians, enabling more people to get the help they need. Every little part helps, and every single penny can go far in making a difference.
I am still so overwhelmed, shocked and surprised by the vast amount of support I had. It is just unbelievable. Every soul who took their time to care, to donate to Syria to add up to this figure, everyone who took so much time across social media of which I know I have not thanked personally yet as there are just so many, it was all possible with you guys.

I am so touched, and I cannot express just how much I mean that. To read through the messages, tweets, emails as I done the marathon each time I checked my phone was just incredible and kept me smiling to continue, what amazing support!

I have been so blessed for getting to work with the people of Syria, sadly I just wish it were under a lifestyle they deserve and not this tragedy, but I am so blessed to have been able to connect with people across the world, people who care, who have been my support, who really have hearts larger than imaginable to do all to help for no reason other than a care for humanity. It is just beautiful, and I can honestly say, I have never felt so happy in my life because of all this.

Many wanted me to pull out due to my bad knee and back problems, & mostly the lack of exercise and having no training at all. It just shows what we can accomplish is we truly put our hearts into it; we can achieve anything we want when we really try.

Recovery!

Recovery day after the marathon!

I couldn’t walk the next day, but the day after, I was back on my feet, in pain and walking rather awkwardly little by little, but it was so worth it!

The next day was full of cold packs, creams, gels and anything you can think off to aid in the pain & recovery as I had to be on a flight the next day!

I want to also apologise to people who I have not written back to personally, things are just very busy at times, I have 2 careers that are very separate to manage, the media industry and running the NGO, things just get hectic and it is nothing personal at all, I do eventually get round to things personal, I hope you can understand this and know the support is so greatly appreciated and inspiring to me.

While many felt it was crazy for me to attempt the Paris Marathon, I can tell you now, I plan on doing something a lot crazier next year, that being something called Marathon Des Sables… www.marathondessables.co.uk – How hard can it be, really!? 156 miles across the Sahara… piece of cake! Of course, again it will be to raise funds for Syrians in need.

Thank you for the support from near and far, thank you for being in my life, and I hope you guys know just how thankful I am to you, those who take so much effort for humanity, and took so much effort over the marathon fundraiser… You inspire me to be a better person.

Thank you from all my heart & soul to those I have met worldwide now through my work, through our interests, through Syria. Thank you to my amazing friends I am so lucky to have across the globe!

We really can make a difference to the lives of Syrians, we can really all help at least one family and that is what life is all about. The organisation I started is small, but is doing effective work, many families are the assistance they need whether it is short-term or long-term, many children are back into education and women are recovering from sexual crimes. We can all do something for humanity, I feel many people just talk and don’t take action because they feel how can you help, you can’t give a lot of money, you don’t know how you can help, so many thoughts, but the truth is everyone can help, everyone can make a difference, and you can, I ask you to please continue to reach out to Syria, it is the worst crisis in our world now and the humanitarian catastrophe is absolutely mind-boggling. Sadly, I don’t have the answers to ending war in our world, but I do know how we can help for humanity, and that is something we can all do.

The Truth Peace & Love FoundationThe Truth Peace & Love Foundation is working hard on setting up more projects and in need of expanding the current ones, along with needing to provide further assistance back into Syria, areas that they can get access to, but the funds are needed to help these people. Please continue to help if you can, please spread the word. www.truthpeacelove.org

Thank you again to everyone for getting me through the Paris Marathon, for all the support always, I am looking forward to the next challenge, and I shall even be more crazy and volunteer myself to any challenges you may have in mind to raise money for the benefit of humanity for Syria!

With Peace & Love,

Yasmin x

Paris Marathon for Syria!

2 Apr

This Sunday (6th April 2014), I will be running the Paris Marathon. I am running it to raise funds for the people of Syria, whom need the worlds support to get through this crisis.

I have recently left yet another trip to Syria, yet another one of much heartache, great distress, further problems, severe hunger, lack of health care & medical facilities, the list is endless. If I am not in Syria then I am in a border region where millions of refugees now reside; struggling for survival.

Yasmin Al Tellawy - Syria

Getting my equipment stolen in Syria by this cute little one! Photo credit: Thanks to Minka Nijhuis

I have worked in Syria for over 2 years now, if not in Syria, then in the neighbouring border regions with the Syrian communities. I have witnessed tragedy that I never thought could exist in our world, I have watched scenes that I would never wish upon a soul to see. I have encountered many families, many children who I grew close with in this war after they took me in on my travels inside, offering me all the love a person could dream off and more; many have since passed on.
I have countless stories and experiences of overwhelming pain that families have & are suffering through in Syria.
I could rhyme off a million and more tragic tales from Syria, as can every soul living in the war, and every soul who has spent a great deal of time within the war. I could share heart wrenching images and footage, but I choose not to.

Instead I will tell you of the good within this crisis. I have been blessed with love I never could have imagined existed in our world.  I have been given kindness that is truly indescribable within Syria, from families who have nothing, yet still reach out and want to give to me, want to care for me when I am in their company.
I have seen strength that has inspired me, warmth that has inspired me to be a better person and do more for our world.
That love & kindness inspired me to set up The Truth Peace & Love Foundation. That love and kindness also gave me the strength to deal with many personal challenges in recent years.

Yasmin Al Tellawy

The front lines of SalahAlDin, Aleppo, Syria

Every time I am in Syria I sit in awe as the few families left in some areas in their homes that are ruins, without electricity, heating, food with grief in their hearts somehow reach out to me and want to care for me, a stranger, and one who wants to hear their stories of tragedy they are experiencing. They open their doors with welcome arms and give me what they can, and what safety they can offer to me when undercover in such dangerous situations.
It all may sounds so simple to you reading this, but it is this love that pushes me forward, it is that love that has made me sign up to do something rather silly like the Paris Marathon this Sunday.

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This little girl is full of so much love & too many cuddles! A refugee now from Aleppo, living in Kilis. Photo credits: Max Aderman / Larissa Neick

The Truth Peace & Love Foundation has assisted so many families now, individual cases, and over 300 victims of rape, sexual assault & other sexual related crimes and many more cases. I have been able to watch young girls who were once in tears wishing for an end to their lives now smile and go to school with dreams of great achievements I know they will get.

I owe a great deal of thanks to the people of Syria, they families who assist me when inside Syria; who let me stay with them, who share great deals of love & care to me.

I owe a lot of thanks to those who I work with in each region of Syria, who take much time to care for my safety & have assisted me beyond necessity in times of danger.

I owe much respect to the families who were only civilians in this war who reached out to me in my time working in Syria who have sadly since passed on.

I also owe my deepest condolences to all those who have lost family across Syria, to all those suffering and for being a part of this world, a world where I believe we should all be one; a world where we should all be reaching out to help one another in need.

I see much growth happening, communities coming together for schools, PTSD assistance, prosthetics assistance, fathers getting back into work and able to support their own families again, rescue teams in Syria who are volunteers only who give their lives to rescue civilians after attacks, there are endless lists of great work being done, progression and ability to get people back on their feet again, and this is what we must focus on, this is what is important now. The people of Syria need so much more assistance like this, and this is what it is all about.

As a human being in this world I reach out to you to please donate and assist the people of Syria for humanity.

Anyone who knows me will know I have no care for politics of religion, these boundaries are not anything I am a fan off in any way, I am a fan of humanity only, and my beliefs in life are simple; spread Peace & Love in our world.

www.youcaring.com/marathonforsyrians

Every penny counts. If you can donate $5, or $500 it all matters, it all makes a big difference to help those in need. Please donate, please share at least, please do what you can!

My efforts to assist are little, I know this, but this is a little way in which I am trying to help. I have no training at all to be running a marathon, my fitness is, well, non-existent to be honest, and I have a bad knee that likes to play up every now and then, yet I will endure through this marathon, even if it takes me 2 days to complete, I will do it because I have the strength in my soul from all the Syrians I have met and had the blessings of their love.

Please reach out, please help. Every penny counts and we can all make a difference to help humanity.

If I end up crying like a baby by the time I reach 5km begging for it to all end, contrary to my big claims of I will do it no matter what then I do apologize in advance, and ask for forgiveness in advance! (joking…!)

Please also join the event page I set up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/256242801225245/

Thank you to those who have been so kind to donate to the marathon fundraiser, and to the organisation I have been so blessed to be a part of with some of the most incredible souls working tirelessly to assist the people of Syria. It really has been so touching to me the support I have had setting all of this up, and to those who have reached out and donated, and shared this widely, thank you from all of my heart, you are amazing!

Together we can really make a difference in this world, and really change the lives for the better of those Syrians who need the support now.

With Peace & Love,

Yasmin x

http://www.youcaring.com/marathonforsyrians
http://www.truthpeacelove.org

Homeless in Kilis; an influx from Syria.

15 Feb

Kilis, Turkey has recently received a vast influx of Syrians seeking safety after recent bombardments of Aleppo.

A mother cries with her children as they stand with their few belongings wondering where they can go.

A mother cries with her children as they stand with their few belongings wondering where they can go.

On any given evening you can find a lady crying on the cold streets of Kilis with her children with a heartbreaking story of survival and loss to tell you.

Kilis refugee camp is full, and there is no other place for Syrians to go. They are finding themselves on the streets with nowhere to go, many finding themselves with no place to pay their heads but on the streets of Kilis.

Syrians are huddled into empty shops, abandoned garages, and anywhere else they can go. Each evening you can find an abundance of Syrians sleeping in the bus station, while day-by-day they are constantly passing through trying to find a place to go.

1000’s of Syrians have entered Kilis in the past week, and the constant stream of people needing assistance certainly has no end in sight.

Around 50 Syrians huddle into this small space together to sleep

Around 50 Syrians crowd into this small space together to call this abandoned shop home for now.

Huddled together for warmth in an empty shop with over 50 people sleeping tightly packed together a young man shares with us his struggles, he has children to feed, along with his wife, and parents to care for. Even thought he is well educated he is unable to find a place to rent at a cheap price and more importantly work; the common tale for Syrians in neighbouring countries.

A woman assists her husband who is an amputee due to complications with diabetes to use the toilet; where is the toilet? It is a small bucket in the open public amongst Syrians outside of the local bus station; they no longer have the opportunity to even keep their dignity. Her husband has no insulin left and they are left with the streets to sleep trying to find a way to go to Istanbul where they hope for a better life.

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Young girls cry as they share their pains from their suffering and loss in Syria.

Aa a young girl cries, she tells me just one simple sentence as she struggles to get her words out from her tears, “I just want us to be one again in Syria”, she continues to share how she misses her father and older sister who has been missing for 2 months now & they have no idea where she is. 

Such simple words she shares with such an impact, a girl of just 14 years old, years ahead in maturity, like many children from Syria now, and a simple message of hope for us to be one in our world. Her tears are an overwhelming abundance of pain. There are few children from Syria who are not holding pain in the hearts nowadays.

Syrians entering Turkey from Bab Al Salam border crossing as the sounds of gunfire echo in the air.

Syrians entering Turkey from Bab Al Salam border crossing as the sounds of gunfire echo in the air.

Standing at Bab Al Salam border, or in Kilis refugee camp you can often hear the fighting a short distance away, a sound that no longer makes children shudder in fear, a sound they are much accustomed to at this stage. The only question I seem to get is where is the help for them they hear about so often in the media? Where is all of the money? Where is the UN? A long list of the same questions I have had thrown my way for the past 2 years now.
I sadly have no answers for them as I am unable to find a UN presence offering hands on assistance past wanting to gather the stories of tragedy for their records, there is a great lack of support for the Syrians who have recently fled Syria, I can only find local collections of people trying to help, and my own organisation now trying to offer what assistance we can.

Thousands have entered Turkey through Bab Al Salam in the past week, with thousands more having had to take dangerous, illegal crossings as they do not hold passports & they recently stopped allowing Syrians to enter without passports.

I found an elderly lady crying in the streets of Kilis with her hand badly cut open and clothing torn after a dangerous and scary journey for her, she injured herself on the barbed wire leaving Syria. She cried saying she had done nothing wrong, her home was destroyed and she had nowhere to go, what can she do.

There is no sight to an end to the war in Syria, a minimum of around 6000 people are leaving Syria daily, many with nowhere to go and millions displaced.

I cannot quite describe what it feels like to see people starving, cold, scared and with no security in any way. It leaves me sleepless, it leaves me with guilt, it leaves me to only wonder what on earth is happening in our world and why are we 3 years into a war in Syria, nearly half of the country having fled for assistance elsewhere, and countless dead. How on earth is this possible.

I don’t meet any Syrian in Kilis who has just crossed without a terrible sadness to share with me, they just lost their child, their wife, their husband, all so fresh and without time to even heal from their pains as they have to instantly struggle for survival on the streets of Kilis.

Homeless in Kilis.

Homeless in Kilis. A young Syrian girl finds herself on the streets of Kilis having recently left Syria.

From the young children to the elderly, every soul of Syria has their story and every story matters in our world. Every soul matters in our world.

These people coming to Kilis right now, and across every border are the people who matter, the civilians, those who are important and forgotten often in war. Please think of the people.
Nobody should be homeless in our world; a world of such vast resources, grandeur and wealth that doesn’t seem to hold equality.

I will share more from Kilis shortly, things are just very busy right now and I wanted to share something in this moment. All I can ask is for one simple thing…

Remember humanity in our world. Please.

WWW.TRUTHPEACELOVE.ORG

Rape in Syria

2 Mar

Rape has always been a dominate weapon in war. Rape in any circumstance is a horrendous, disgusting act; when you add the violence in rape that happens within a war, it brings it to yet another sickening low act that is beyond the imagination. Rape and sexual abuses are committed frequently in Syria, however are highly under reported.

Rape has always held a stigma attached to it of shame in the Middle East and through religion this is heightened. Rape holds a stigma wrongly attached to it worldwide of course. In the Muslim culture at times with rape cases, the victims can often be forced to married their rapist, have their children, and do not have a voice in this matter. They are given a feeling of shame. Rape in war currently from Syria has brought a business of selling these victims as brides, trafficking rings have been set up, a money-making trade has been made out of these victims from Syria.

What I will also point out as many people misunderstand Muslim culture, this is not how every Muslim feels about rape, or deals with the crisis happening with this, like any culture and religion there are the good and bad within it. There are Muslims assisting these victims as much as they can in the right way too.

Rape in Syria is currently happening not only to females, but males also, however, males will never speak about this matter tragically to get the help they require.

Girls suffering from rape; and I do want to emphasise girls are in need of serious help, some cases are even as young as 7 years old (I have personally dealt with one case at this age), with age of cases I have dealt with mostly from Syria are predominately between 11-20 years old. Not only are these girls raped there is a great deal of violence within the rape, many have already witnessed horrific atrocities happening, some have witnessed their own loved ones being killed and are then raped, abused and tortured in highly intrusive sexual manners. Brutality which includes being prodded with a hot rod in their genital region, mice being used are commonly reported as being inserted into these victims, and many other disturbing, and brutal methods of torture are being used to harm these victims.

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Many girls are scared and try to hide it from their own loved ones where possible, they are living with this shameful feeling within themselves. The suffering they have gone through with this horrendous situation, to then in some cases to find they are pregnant at times and are also being sold as brides.
These victims feel worthless, like they are unable to marry, have children, they are feeling like their life is over and in many cases wishing for death to knock upon their door as they can see no life ahead of them. Some organisations are providing what they feel is assistance by selling these girls as brides as a charitable act.

I have two particular cases that are strong in my memory always. One being what I previously touched on briefly in my last blog, and another being a girl so scared from her religion and family, even though I knew her own family would have assisted her, she turned to religion heavily, not allowing any men to see her at all, and covering everything, even her hands if she went out anywhere, her own mother did not wear a headscarf on normal occasions. I was lucky to be able to meet her to assist her in the appropriate way so she no longer had to keep this all in her mind.

We have problems now with trafficking of Syrian girls, some due to them being raped and deemed worthless, some as their families feel they are doing right marrying them off from a life in a refugee camp. There are many reasons for this. There is a major problem of girls being used as prostitutes, girls being dumped when unwanted in certain Arab countries and thrown into brothels. The problems happening currently are out of control and need better assistance from our world to be stopped.

Can you imagine being a child, having watched your family be murdered to then be raped repeatedly & graphically tortured in the most revolting ways imaginable, to then be possibly sold as a bride or used as a prostitute? I am sure you fail to imagine this or connect to this on any level. I remember turning 13 and recalling worrying about whether my school bag would have been cool to fit in with the cool kids, worry about my hair style, running around in fields picking wild raspberries. I am sure most of you have many childhood stories of your ‘worries’. Can you imagine being back in that age and thinking of the graphic rape you have just suffered through, the loved ones you have lost and feeling unable to speak, and then if you possibly do speak, the chances are you will end up in a wealthy Arab state as an extra wife, or used as a prostitute. This is what is happening in many instances right now as you read this.

Rape is now being committed by both sides of the fighting in Syria. It is used as a weapon of war for many reasons. Reasons that I would like to think the majority of us will never be able to adhere to such comprehension. What we need to focus on primarily is getting these victims the help they need, not judging them upon their sect of religion from Syria, or which side may have committed the crime and so forth.

Sadly I personally cannot stop rape crimes being committed in our world, but I do know what we can do as humans who should care for humanity and take the appropriate steps to dealing with rape in war. We can assist these victims in the appropriate manner without judgements of religion, culture or any of the barriers in our world.

If you have been a victim of rape, you are not a person who should hold shame in any way. You need to know you are a beautiful being in our world and have not done anything wrong. You are someone important in our world. You do not deserve to be treated as a victim who should be ashamed. You deserve the right support for what you have had to tragically suffer through. You deserve protection, care to recover mentally and physically, care without judgements.

I have worked with quite a few rape cases from Syria in the past year, my mind cannot comprehend the trauma these girls have suffered for the simple reasons being I do not, and do not ever wish to understand the minds of these sick individuals and groups committing these crimes. I do find it hard to sleep most nights knowing the monstrous acts that have been shared with me by many victims. I can only think constantly, and I hope many of you will agree with me; what is wrong with our world? Why are we allowing these crimes to happen? What more can we do?

I ask you to focus on what is happening in our world. Syria is facing one of the worst crisis in more recent history. There are many issues happening across our world, I ask you to take action, stand up against these matters, make a change, we can all make a change no matter where we are.

We are all doing something wrong in our world if victims of rape in war are being sold as worthless beings. We are all doing something wrong in our world if we are not opening our eyes & hearts to this matter. We are all doing something wrong if we do not take action to make a change.

Rape is only one of many war crimes being committed in Syria of course, but is the most sensitive and is lacking support. We need to focus on the assistance of victims from the crisis in Syria, and this is not being done enough.

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Children are suffering internally from being witness to barbarity without the appropriate treatment for their future, women without support living in fear of sharing what has happened to them, men who have been tortured in such explicit conduct that bury it so deep internally, the list is truly endless, never mind the injured who are not getting the support they need either. There are so many problems not being addressed sufficiently from the crisis of Syria.

There are organisations of course set up to assist with these victims of rape; however, it is proving ineffective for several reasons, and also depending on how you look at the right way of deal with rape may be.

5-10% of the crimes happening in Syria are reported. There is so much more happening that is not being shown, and we need to work together for humanity to show these crimes, assist with these matters and bring help in the right way. I am shocked constantly speaking to people, general citizens in various countries surprised that I am speaking about a war in Syria who say in shock ‘are they still having problems?’

Please take notice of the crisis in our world.

This is the most sensitive topic within the war to deal with; the point is that we can deal with it and it is time we did.

Truth – Peace – Love.

Helping Humanity, Open your Heart for Syria.

14 Jan

Recently, I have been going through files from Syria in 2012. I came across this picture and it brought back so many memories.

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I had gone on yet another trip inside; I was planning on 1-2 days in Aleppo after Idlib, this was at the beginning of the troubles in Aleppo, before it went to mainstream media, when it was still very much in the hands of the regime and not the opposition. I decided to go into the centre, things were very different at the time upon going into the centre, I won’t go into much detail of it, but, there were no Free Syrian Army groups going back and forth at the time, everything was silent of this, everything was with regime checkpoints in the centre, not FSA checkpoints.

About 8 days later, after no communication with those few on the outside who knew what I was working on inside, no emails, no phones, nothing, let’s just say I had landed in a far from safe situation, I was out to Idlib border again,  back to being able to breathe, feel safe for that time frame. I won’t go into great details of everything day to day.

I let kids use my camera when resting, in family homes and so forth, it brings them a moment of joy from the boredom the poor children have to suffer through with no schools, no real freedom for play time and these things kids need. What I didn’t realise was this kid had listened to me speaking about what had happened and was paying close attention to the chats with the adults in the group. He took this snap, this was the moment I had phone communication again and relieved a lot of very worried people on the outside who were starting to think the worst. It was such a joyous moment and this brought me smiles as I reminisce over that trip. It then brings me great sadness.

During that trip, I had witnessed some of the most horrific scenes to date in Syria for me. Things that still haunt me, still shock me, things that I would wish no-one to see or experience.

It started with a 12-year-old girl who had been raped horrendously by what is known as the Shabiha, a militia group loyal to the Syrian regime. The Free Syrian Army had rescued her, she had witnessed her family murdered in front of her own eyes. They took her and continuously raped her, they used mice as part of shaming her, and prodded her with a hot rod type of item. Now, I won’t go into the tragic details of this crime, but you may find it hard to believe. How could anyone do this to a little girl I thought as she shared her horror with me, myself in the moment even in so much shock trying to believe her story. With just her and I in the room, she was being treated for her wounds, she was crying, wishing for death as what man would ever want her, she called herself a monster now, she could never have children, her family are all gone, what did she have to live for she questioned me, the tragedy that was before me was beyond comprehension. I tried to comfort her, I tried to calm her, she lifted her gown and blankets from the hospital bed she lay on and shouted at me to look at her disfigurement.

I had lost any right to question her story she shared with me in that moment as I fought to hold back my every emotion in front of her.

Rape is not something spoken about openly in the Muslim culture; it’s difficult for someone to speak about from any culture, but no culture as difficult as the Arab nations.

Rape is happening more frequently than can ever be documented in Syria currently, including men suffering sexual abuses.

Continuing that trip, there was tragedy after tragedy in all the regions I travelled to. Everyone not without their tragic story to share, places of terror, fear, the unknown that could happen at any moment with the fear of helicopters at the time circling as we would await them dropping out rockets. Descriptions I could never put into words, nor could anyone of what the situation is like inside.

These scenes are only worsening inside now. These tragedies are worsening daily, yet we are approaching 2 years of the troubles in Syria and it only continues to deteriorate while it seems humanity is lost in the world.

I only share this tiny glimpse into one of my trips into Syria as looking back at this file, seeing this picture, and remembering it all, as I do every trip I have made inside, I never forget everyone who helps me, everyone I meet, I just don’t share much publically about it, but I spoke to this little boy this morning and asked him if he remembered the pictures he took on my camera, he said yes of course, he loves my camera he said, and he asked me if I am happier now. I asked him why he asks me this, he said because when he met me I was very sad even though I was laughing and playing with his family. That saddened me even more that this boy, this family that I have not seen again since that trip remembers me, and that little boy takes the time to ask me how I am and if I am happy while his family are in great suffering, lacking food, further lives lost in their family while they lack clothing, blankets and so forth for winter.
I could share a thousand stories and more, as can anyone who has been inside, or any Syrian first and foremost who has suffered – each story is just as important as the other, every human life counts, this is not a statistic; yet this is how most know Syria and it’s tragedy as statistics.

This same trip one of the many families I had met with, a family who took me in for shelter for a short time and fed me, I had given a little girl bracelets as a gift, I always try to carry some small items I could give as gifts to children, I had 2 bracelets she liked, nothing special but she adored them, she asked me what they said, one was peace, one was love, (If you know me, it’s my motto through life and any jewellery I am wearing frequently has this written on it in some way…), so I say to her, Salam (Peace) and Hubb (Love). She said it was so beautiful, and we laughed as I ate with her and her family. I put them around her wrist and she asked me to promise to come and she her again, Inshallah (God willing incase you are not familiar with Arabic terms) I said, and I looked to her family and asked them why are they not leaving as they were in a very dangerous area and it was only a matter of time before it would be hit, I feared for them. This little girl was so precious, so smart, so loving, there was something about her that stuck with me, I think it was because she reminded me of myself when I was her age, she was so beautiful. She came running to me in tears as I was leaving, she was scared I would not visit her again and missed me already she said, and she gave me back the bracelets I gave her. We all were so surprised as the kids love to get gifts and she adored the little bracelets. She said she wanted me to wear them because she wants me to keep the Peace and Love with me as I travelled in Syria to be safe and wanted me to always remember her. After a lot of bickering and giggles, I put the bracelets on and she made me promise her I would never take them off. I never took them off since then. 2 days later I was in a different region and was told that the village was hit badly and there are many injured and killed including many children. Of course my first instinct was to think of Alaa, that little girl, that family who took me in. I requested to go back to that village to see what had happened, my heart sank as I returned to a now destroyed village. I went to the house that was where I sat days previously and laughed with a family, that house was rubble now. We asked around what happened, tried to find information, most fled to refugee camps so I presumed they had left there too. A man in the village remembered me, he was a neighbour of the family and had sat in for dinner with us, he told me to come with him, he took me to a graveyard, to Alaa’s grave. That little girl, just days prior I laughed with was killed as she was buried in rubble in her home. To this day I can’t believe it, but I don’t look at those bracelets the same anymore and I certainly never did take them off, until recently as they were getting badly damaged so I wanted to protect them to make sure I always had them, I replaced them with a small peace & love bracelet I can always wear to remember her.
Peace & Love
This is a frequent story in Syria sadly. It just hurts more as it would any human I would like to think when you meet the people personally, it adds a different level of upset to the situation.

The beauty in the hearts of the Syrian people is one that I cannot ever falter. It is not one that anyone will ever understand unless they have travelled to Syria, or lived in Syria or been working inside. Being any outside to the religion, yet being brought in and welcomed and assisted is something that is lacking great understanding to the outside world. Muslim’s get put under one big title in the world by those who lack education on the religion or live in little bubbles of Fox watching news turning a blind eye to the real world.

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Right now there are millions of humans suffering across our world, from many countries, cultures, religions. Right now though, Syria is suffering the worst humanitarian crisis possible.

No-one can imagine the suffering the people are going through, the tragedy that has happened and is happening. You see about 10% if you are lucky through the media. A lot more needs done.

We are here on this earth for humanity, to help one another in need. It is not about religion, not about race or anything alike, this is about humanity.

I am asking you for humanity, to please help in any humanitarian way you can. Please open your eyes, please donate what you can – financially, clothing, blankets, anything else to a local group that you trust is doing great work inside and / or in the refugee camps surrounding Syria. If you need advice on trusted groups in your country please get in touch I will be happy to guide you as there are sadly many who are profiting from war as always happens and cannot be trusted too, so please be sure to verify donations carefully. As some of you may know, I am starting my own organisation, and have received many donations of medical supplies, clothing and so forth to get through to those in need. I will not be ready to launch my organisation official until March roughly, but if you do wish to pass anything through I can direct it through me if this helps for those who know me. My organisation will be a different way of involving the world in bring aid to those in need, it will not be limited to Syria, it will be a worldwide organisation, however in the first year the prediction is we will only be aiding Syria through it.

Be thankful for all you have, for that phone call you were able to make today, for that cup of coffee you made yourself that you must have every morning or else you will have a conniption. Be thankful for life, for your children, your wife and your husband if you are lucky to have found love in this form. Be thankful for that bowl of cereal you had, for that lunch date you are going to have, for that vacation you are going on. Be thankful for the water running freely from your tap, for the joy of being able to sit in comfort and read this right now without worry.

Please don’t use the excuse well it’s not my country, they are not my family, they are not my people. This is disgusting to say and sadly I have heard this too many times for my liking. We are one in this world; we should always be reaching out a helping hand to another.

We live blessed lives, even your worst day is your best day, believe me. You are alive, that is enough to be thankful for, and with that, being alive means you are a human in this world and our duty as human’s are to help one another in need.

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I cannot fathom on any level what it would feel like to lose my child, to lose my father, my mother, my loved ones through horrors of war, and in such horrific and painful circumstances. I cannot nearly imagine how I would feel if my child was raped, tortured, beaten to death and worse. I am sure you cannot either. I have seen what it feels like for others first hand to face this, others who once had a normal life, a husband they would kiss goodbye to as they left to work, kids they would open the door to as they came home excited and playful after a day at school begging to go play before dinner, your everyday life, taken away from you, and if you are lucky to be alive still, you get to go and live in a dirty refugee camp, lacking all forms of aid.  Think about it, open your eyes.

Live a good honest life, please be more than what the world is conforming to be, cheating, lies, destruction and so forth. Please be more. Stand up for humanity; stand up as a human being. Spread Peace & Love, this starts in your heart and spreads one little bit at a time.

I share little glimpses here and there of small stories just to give a glimpse into a humanised side of things in Syria. If you are on my mailing list I share a lot more, but will from now on try to blog a lot more…

Be Truth, Be Peace, Be Love, Be Inspiring.

With Peace & Love,

Yasmin

Love from your Soul…

28 Sep

As I wake to yet another glorious sunny morning in England, with birds singing all around, a wave of calm & peace fills the air and I take time count my blessings.

I have much I could complain about in my life, in many cases things are quite bad actually and I have many problems personally, but I always keep perspective.

But, I stop and feel no need to complain truly. I am alive & healthy. I reflect on all I have seen in Syria to date. Thousands are starving right now, homeless, displaced, disabled for life, unable to get their children medicine for illnesses, limbless, suffering severe loss like we will never truly understand in other democracies around the world.

No doubt, the things in Syria I have seen have changed me greatly as a person. All for a much better person to really strive to help others in life now, to always keep love in my heart no matter what & to never hold an ounce of hate in my soul.

As I think of those moments as I travel through blood stained derelect streets, I recall the lifeless children, unable to save after being hit at random by shelling & rockets dropped at random from above. I think of all the young men I have watched die because of lack of medical care available. I think off the young children, the families living hungry every day, many without even access to clean water. 12 year old girls telling me of their horrendous rape stories. The things I could tell you, you would not believe unless you have seen for yourself also.

I still sometimes find it hard to believe the things I have seen inside Syria & how on earth this can be happening in this day in age.

We always say, ‘things could be much worse’ to one another when going through hard times, but truly, how many stop and do realise this? How many count your blessings daily. How many strive to do anything to help another in need & how much just talk about this.

One thing I can say that affects me the most, is even in the most difficult time the people inside Syria are facing, I have never in my life experienced such beauty & kindness. I am always in awe at how they can be like this. Through the most difficult times they are experiencing, families take time to help me, take me in, give me somewhere to sleep, something to eat while trying to cater to my dietary preferences regardless of my objections and the difficulty to source food. They clean me up, give me clothes to wear, treat me like their family, and worry for me, while their own family has suffered great loss beyond your imagination. Even with this, they object to me so strongly trying to give them any money, something they desperately need.
When I leave from my short visits with families, I am overwhelmed with gifts from little children of any kind to remember them by they tell me. From fruit from a tree they picked if they have that around, a tissue, a necklace, anything possible. Such kindness & love with everything happening to them.

   

Such kindness I don’t think I will ever experience again, it certainly is a life changing experience and brings great sadness within when I look around at how we treat each other on a daily basis.

I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people in England in the past few weeks, some within the Syrian communities and feel so touched by the love and dedication in their hearts. Many having changed their own lives to give to Syria with just about keeping their mortgage paid to send the rest to help those starving & in need in Syria. Many doing anything they can to help in any way in Syria in a humanitarian manner. It’s truly admirable.

Families that have once take me in, helped me have since been killed. These families I have stayed with were just trying to stay indoors, away from any trouble, not fighting on either side in any way. Just dreaming of their children to go to school safely, fathers wanting to have work to provide for their families, just dreaming of normal lives than we all take for granted daily.

I can only feel inspired by such beauty in life. If they can take me in, a complete stranger into their lives through the worse horrors imaginable, then surely we can all be doing more to help one another on a daily basis.

No matter what hate is put out into your world, always release it. Keep peace & love in your heart always, and always help another in need, no matter how big or small. There is so much we can do to help one another, a friend in need, family in need, stranger in need. This is what life is all about, helping one another in this world. It’s about spreading a message of peace & love through everyone’s soul.

Appreciate the beauty around you and share it with others, banish the hate. Hate will only bred more hate and this is something I have witnessed in life grow deeper and it’s an awful thing.

Never live where you will hold regret, wish you could have done more, changed something, do it, live in right now. There are no excuses.

Stop and think, what can you do better, how can you be better in life, we all can always be better, we can and should always be learning and changing to be better people in life. Make a change. Do something great today, help another. Keep love in your heart.

If you want to help those in need in Syria, I recommend these 2 organisations as I have personally watched their great hands on work to get aid into Syria. Things are deteriorating rapidly daily. The situation is out of control in Syria and like no other war crisis situation you can imagine. You are only seeing a small percentage of what is happening in the news.

Human Care Foundation Worldwide
www.hcfww.org

If you want any further information on the best ways to help those in need in Syria, please feel free to get in touch.

With Peace & Love,

Yasmin x

Lessons in Life & Love, from Syria.

24 Jul

The Jewels of Life…

We live in a cold world at the most of times. We live in a societies where cheating, deceits, lies are of no shock to us. We live in a world where rape is the fastest growing crime in many countries. 1 in 3 women will be sexual assaulted in her lifetime, 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are 18. We live in a culture at most times where we shove past one another, mutter rude words to strangers under our breath to release our inner problems. We live in a world where we are killing one another in some form or another. We live in a world where human trafficking is a worldwide business totally over 30 billion dollars a year, with around 3 million people being trafficked worldwide, of which around 1.2 million are children. People are killing one another in various countries around the world. People are giving their lives just for a taste of freedom.

Most humans love to turn a blind eye to this small list of world problems, and sadly this truly is a tiny selection of issues around the world.

These are all things that I have to say with deep regret I don’t see changing in my lifetime. It seems these problems are only worsening worldwide. But, we can all do our part to help our world, even if it is just the tiny bubble of life around us, it will make a change.

Now, we are all guilty of having our moments, don’t get me wrong, I am by far no saint. No-one ever will be, but, we certainly can keep ourselves in check.

Recently I have been working within Syria to try to show what is happening to the people within, to try to help with the problems that Syria is facing.

I have of course learned a lot from these experiences, along with all of mine in life. I have been reflecting on all of this in the past week.

In various trips to different areas of Syria during the revolution within, I have watched people die, I have held children in my arms as I have desperately wanted to be able to revive them, I have watched feeling completely empty at the lifeless bodies of young souls taken away for no just reasons. I have watched grown men, young and old go off to clashes and not return alive as they give their heart and soul to fight to protect their loved ones. I have watched the uncontrollable tears as loved ones mourn over the lost corpses with the sound of shelling echo in the air. I have hidden in buildings praying for our lives not knowing where the next shell or rocket may land in complete darkness. I have watched helicopters drop rockets from above and random over villages of people who have little chance of survival. I have listened to a 12 year old tell me how they watched their loved ones being murdered while they are raped as they pray for death.

What does this give me? Perspective of the world we live in. It has proven to me just how cold this world can be. As I watch the tragedy within Syria, and of course, not only Syria is experiencing great crimes, but it is certainly experiencing the worst in this moment of time. Syria however is experience the truth of how cold our world can be as it is still left along with little help in various ways. The world watches as humanitarian crimes continue to be committed.
I wish I knew how to put it into words the things I have seen, the feelings, emotions, thoughts it provokes, but no-one ever would be able to.

Nothing is more precious in this world than love, bonds, truth, honesty, having people around you who truly care for you in the good and bad. Life can be awful short, in any country, even on a perfectly sunny day, tragedy can strike, and I can assure you if that happened, most of us will bear scars of regret, why did I do that, why did I not say this, why, what, and all the rest. I know this will happen.

Why should it take a moment like that to learn the value of love, it shouldn’t. We should value our every moment, treasure the care around us, respect this, forgive, learn from our mistakes that we will forever make through life, let go of resentments, hate, what good is this to add to this cold world around us. Never leave things until it is too late, don’t live in fear, secrets, or lies, live being you with only love in your heart and not only will the world around benefit from this energy, the greatest person to benefit will be you.

I admire many in Syria in so many ways. The bonds they have for one another, how they take care of one another, not only in such a time as now, but in general are beautiful. While of course it is not all like this, but, the majority is like this.

In Western culture, if we had such a crisis, our culture has taught us to lock our doors and take care of ourselves; our culture is much more selfish.

I admire the innocent within people I meet in Syria. Young girls & boys are so respectful, take care of their family, I watched a girl who just turned 17 go to sleep cuddling her teddy bear she was given as a gift. I watch as they help their parents bring up the other children, I watch in awe as they don’t complain.

I think about this when I come back to the my culture, I hear young girls around 14 talking about some guy they just slept with, I watch as they young teens spit on the street, curse like it is the language we are taught in school – maybe it is nowadays, I don’t know. I watch a 16 year old struggle along pregnant with a cigarette in one hand and a young kid already on her arm to an unknown father. I watch as they fight outside of clubs, throwing up on the streets. I look as children bring up children. I watch as much of the youth have no concept of the value of money, care, honesty. I watch the deterioration on a daily basis. Apparently it is ‘cool’ as I was told once to curse, to act like a gangster, to indulge in sexual activities at such young ages.

I think at this point there are too many to blame, parents, culture, media as they admire reality ‘stars’. Class, self-respect, honesty, loyalty are certainly not words of where their meaning exist. This is another topic to write one though.

I ask you to stop in your life for a moment, look around. What can you do different to benefit this world? What small change can you offer this world?

I am not saying everyone needs to go out and give all their money to help a good cause, or get on the first flight to a war zone to help, but if you can help do it. If you know you could change something in your life, in you to better you as a person, do it. Don’t procrastinate.

It may seem that the world is a depressing place from reading this, most run from this type of talk; most prefer to turn a blind eye and just act like they help.

This is not about religion, culture, country you live in, this is about humanity. Help humanity.

Live in love, appreciate what you have around you, don’t complain when you have nothing to complain about, and don’t wait until it is too late. Live in love.

We can all do our part to make the world a beautiful place. There is much beauty around, don’t get me wrong.

I see the tragedy and crimes around the world, but it helps me as a person within because it makes you learn what is important; what is precious. This should be instilled in our hearts though, honesty, love, respect, humanity should be engraved in our hearts.

This may be a little off topic, but I wanted to share this.
I was telling a friend a story the other day, I was in a restaurant, a couple where celebrating 50 years together or up’s and downs but ultimately true love they told me, we all cheered for this in the restaurant. It made me stop and think, what an old culture sadly, this shocks us, yet when you hear he / she cheated, he / she lied etc… are we truly shocked… the answer is no, it is what is common sadly, yet it should not be.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Don’t swim with the other fish in the sea, swim against the tide. Open your heart, open your mind. Open your eyes. Bring more love into this world.

The jewel of life is love.

Yasmin x