From today’s war-torn landscape has emerged numerous non-governmental organizations seeking to uplift Syrian refugees via craft, design, and mental health support. Children affected by conflict – often without family, medical care, or funds – are the most helpless and in urgent need of international aid. That’s why award-winning news journalist Arwa Damon, granddaughter of former Syrian prime minister Muhsin al-Barazi, created the independent and neutral NGO Inara.
In her years of covering war zones, particularly in the Middle East, Damon witnessed first-hand children’s need for medical care and them being deprived of their futures due to a lack of treatment. It got to a point where she felt she had to do more. “I launched Inara, not only because I was constantly witnessing children who desperately needed medical care but were unable to access it, but also because I believe it is our moral duty to do more. What I was doing as a reporter was not good enough,” she says.
Through Inara, children are matched with the medical care they need, made possible by donations from the public. Actor Thomas Sadoski sits on the board of Inara, raising awareness with his wife, fellow actor Amanda Seyfried. Inara has raised resources that have helped more than 190 refugee children to date.
On the NGO’s YouTube channel, you can witness little Taj walk for the first time in four years. Her knee was hit by shrapnel; with surgeries and rehabilitation, she has been able to return to school. See Ghinwa once again move her arm. Witness nine-year-old Jamila share that after her surgery, she became “more courageous.” Once “sad and down all the time,” Lea’s entire face becomes luminous as she remembers, “Now, after the surgery, I can smile and look at people. Thank you so much. It’s a beautiful thing to look in the mirror and see yourself like other people see you.”
“Children don’t know war, but they are the first to be hurt, and they are often hurt the worst,” says Sadoski, while visiting children being treated in Beirut. He reminds us that when war ends, it does not end for children, for the wounds they endure – physical and mental – can last a lifetime. The medical procedures enabled by Inara offer children a possibility to come back into society, return to school, and, one day, fall in love. The pro bono care – that focuses on cases no one else can – is also facilitated via partnerships. Syrian designer Nabil el-Nayal has collaborated with Inara, with proceeds from the sale of his T-shirts sporting “My future will not be lost” going towards the cause.
“These children’s lives are defined by violence, cruelty, and abandonment,” states Damon. “Just because our governments fail, world leaders fail, we do not have to fail each other. We can do better. We can change and redefine their narrative. These children have had their childhoods stolen from them – we can come together and ensure that their futures are not stolen as well.”
Today, the need for Inara is more desperate than ever. To everyone feeling powerless in the face of the Syrian war, this is our opportunity to act. Throughout its Covid-19 campaign, Inara aims to raise over $100,000 to provide over 1,250 families with hygiene and food kits (costing $80 for each family). All donations are doubled. Inara.org
Originally published in the April 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia