I would like to tell you about two women who have impressed me so much, not for who they are but for what they have done — and continue to do. They are examples of the fundamental humanitarian sentiments that all human beings should harbor in their hearts.
Their feelings of empathy go beyond words; they act to create, for a few lucky souls, a life of independence when otherwise they would lead a life of dependency, relying on others for their most basic needs. In their very special way, they epitomize humanity.
Wars worldwide — and specifically in our region — have resulted in unspeakable tragedies, leaving behind an array of victims who have been depicted as a faceless mass by the global media and remembered as such by the general public, especially if those victims are Arab or Muslim. No mention is made regarding their past or their thoughts and dreams, as is usually the case for certain other nationalities in the foreign media. No longer with a name, a family or a life, they are buried beneath a pile of similar victims, or should I say, similar numbers.
A child victim is the most painful kind. A sense of hopelessness and helplessness looms over anyone with a heart. What kind of senselessness makes it OK to kill or injure children? What kind of logic is satisfied by the maiming of innocent lives whose only crime was to be born into a family whose citizenship was “wrong?” Humankind creates to destroy, only to recreate that which they destroyed. Those who die shall be remembered by those who loved them, but those who are injured, maimed or paralyzed shall be an emotional and financial burden to those who care for them with the little they may have.
And here enters a small ray of sunshine in the midst of the ashen ruins of absurdity, in the form of two heroines from Slovenia, Mojca Tos and Tanja Miskova. They have pursued their goals through a humanitarian project called “Let Them Dream,” which was established by former Slovenian President Danilo Turk. Its aim is to provide medical treatment and rehabilitation for the wounded children of Gaza — the youngest yet most often forgotten victims of war.
Injured by explosions that go beyond the physical, these children are in desperate need of help. The foundation focuses on those who have lost one or multiple limbs — in some cases all four — as well as those with severe burns. They are taken out of Gaza, with much difficulty, and flown to Slovenia, where they receive treatments including surgery, physiotherapy, skin grafts and the fitting of prosthetics. The children return to Slovenia for further treatment as they grow and the foundation has, to date, helped 199 young people aged between seven months and 25 years. They also train professionals in Gaza for the sustainability of care.
I know similar projects exist and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center is one such example. But, for me, meeting these amazing women and hearing them talk with such passion about these children, who come from a different land, a different culture and a different faith from their own, and seeing their incredible desire to help them by spending their lives looking for donors so that they may carry on with their mission, brought tears to my eyes — not only because of how much they have already done, but because of how little the rest of the world has done.
Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013 and is a member of its Foreign Affairs Committee.