Almost all of the children who study at this school have fled violence in northern rural Hama over a year ago, and sought refuge in caves and tents that are spread along this rural area. Last year, some of the children living in rural Idleb had an opportunity to catch up on the education they have missed.
Driving towards Madaya in a convoy that snaked along the Damascus highway for hundreds of metres, a huge knot formed in the pit of my stomach. Not knowing what we would find there, and remembering the harrowing images of emaciated children pleading with their eyes for some respite from this siege, it was hard not to be worried.
Picture calling your child aside for a private conversation. Look into their eyes, and take a big breath. Now imagine asking your child to leave. Not for a few days, and not to visit Grandma. Ask your son or daughter to walk until they find food or work. Just keep walking, even if it takes days, weeks or months.
The horror of the killing fields in Rwanda gave rise to the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine. In a word, if such mass atrocity crimes are being committed, and the state where these crimes are occurring is unwilling or unable to act -- or worse, is the author of such international crimes -- the Responsibility to Protect arises.
Going into the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul, there are good reasons why conflict and violence remain high on the agenda, but these reasons are not new. Conflicts and violence exact a brutal toll on people and affected communities as tragic civilian deaths, injuries, rape and torture become a daily experience
This week, World Vision released a video showing what it might be like to have your classroom torn apart by war. In about two minutes, Life As a Classroom shows the destruction of once-friendly schoolroom over Syria's five-year conflict. As the video opens we see the teacher energetically teaching from the front. The walls are covered with colourful posters and a map of the world. All is peaceful. All is as it should be. Suddenly we hear the chanting of political protests in the street outside. Teacher and students move to the windows to look out. That's when things begin to change.
The first planes filled with Syrian refugees are touching down in Canada this week. We will no longer just be following their heartbreaking stories from a distance. Some of the people caught in this devastating conflict, people who have been so hotly debated about in the media, in workplaces, and around dinner tables, will now have a new home and a new life here in Canada. In order for this transition to happen, the Canadian newcomers will need much more than roofs over their heads and three square meals a day. It's absolutely essential that they feel welcome and supported.
I am unwilling to shake off the horror of seeing Alan Kurdi lying face down on the beach. If it were just one child, just one death, the story would still be heartbreaking. But the outraged conversations across Canada have quickly expanded to include Canada's wider response to this terrible conflict.
Alan Kurdi's image has captivated the world's attention and focused it on the ways in which those with the ability to rescue desperate people have failed to do so, to staggeringly horrific effect. It has focused Canada's attention, because whether or not he had hoped to join his family in Canada, he certainly has Canadian family that cared for him deeply. But Canada's government is not alone in being blameworthy; rather, it is in good company.
It's something the majority of Canadians intuitively feel: politics and politicians no longer seem like a channel for change or action, and so we tune them out. People and even partisans are disconnected from purpose beyond the election cycle. But in an election framed on change, maybe there's an opportunity here to reconnect politics and purpose.