Even though he was surrounded by the bright orange colour, it was a heart-wrenching sight. He should never have been in the vehicle. He didn’t utter a word, not even a whimper. He looked on, dazed. Those eyes tell a story of despair, of helplessness, of hopelessness, of trauma, of war. When he looked down, like one shy, I lost it- tears streamed down my face. Legs outstretched, in the midst of the chaos around him, he touched his dusty bloodied face. No, it wasn’t because of an accident in school or during a visit to the mall. Minutes earlier, his home had come under a military airstrike.
His name is Omran Daqneesh, a 5 year old boy in Aleppo, Syria. While his mates in other parts of the world wake up to the caring touch and sonorous voice of their parents, urging them to prepare for school, Omran wakes up to the horror of blood, rubbles, gunfire, ear-piercing noise, death. While his mates openly play on the park and complain about the taste of the berry, Omran plays in the midst of rubbles, with the sound of gunfire in the background. His innocence, blemished. No, he did not choose this life. He just found himself thrust into it.
But Omran is lucky. There are several thousands of children, his age or even lower, whose lives have been tragically cut short in the Syrian War. Sadly, Omran won’t be the last victim of this war. His 10 year old elder brother died from injuries sustained in the airstrike. Watching Omran sitting helpless in the ambulance, I genuinely wished I could hug and assure him everything would be alright.
Lonely and war-weary in the back of an ambulance, Omran stares helplessly at the world and the world stares back, leaving him at the mercy of the next airstrike.
See the video of his rescue here.