Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace, Bana Alabed, author, Lameece Issaq, narrator
This is a very brief account of Syria’s Assad’s war against his own people. it is unusual because it is written by a seven year old at the time it begins, who turns eight years old by the time it concludes. Bana Alabed’s courageous message will resonate in the hearts and minds of every one who absorbs it. Who else but a child could so clearly see the pain and waste of war? Who else but a child could simplistically describe the brutality and violence, the fear, the danger, the cruelty, the loss, and the implicit stupidity of war, as succinctly?
Bana Alabed was born to parents of the Muslim faith. Their marriage was arranged, but they came to love each other. Their life in Aleppo, Syria, was one they loved. Their first child, Bana, was happy and also loved Aleppo and the friends she made. Precocious, she learned to read at 3 and this gift of intelligence gave her a maturity beyond her youth. As the war broke out, and she spent many years living under the threat of death and destruction, she always questioned the reason and never fully understood why their own country was constantly attacking its own people.
The book alternates between messages from Bana and her mother. The terror they faced, the kidnappings, the ransom, the deaths, the destruction, and their eventual desperate escape, are all vividly expressed in their words, but in the words of Bana, they are like arrows which enter directly into the reader’s soul. At seven, this child has more common sense and a greater ability to analyze the futility of conflict, than any adult around her. She grows obsessed with the desire to tell the world about the tragedy of what the Syrian regime was and still is doing, the crimes it is committing against its own citizens, and her voice, asking the world to help, asking the people everywhere to pray for peace, to help the victims, rings out loud and clear.
Her effort has placed her in danger. It is hard to imagine that a vicious regime and leader would target the voice of a child, but this child has become an enemy because she is a voice for freedom and not the yoke of the tyrannical rule of the Syrian dictator. Her mother is aware of the danger her child is in, but she believes she has a greater purpose she must serve and will not stop her voice from ringing out and reaching others with her message of hope and peace.
In her innocence she is eloquent as she describes the waste of life and limb, the unspeakable pain of loss, of the death of relatives and friends, the destruction of buildings whose inhabitants have no chance of surviving and no place to run, of schools blown up that could have been filled with innocent children, of people being hunted as they simply try to hide to escape from the violence. There was no way out; there was no place to go, however, Bana, a mere child, is trying to do what others have failed to accomplish. She is trying to give them an escape route.
It is very heartbreaking to hear this plain truth as it is expressed in the voice of a young child. It is heartbreaking in its innocence, and horrifying to think of her as a potential target because she does not really have freedom of speech. Her message speaks volumes more than that of any scholar. Hope and peace are the simplest of requests, and she implores everyone to work toward those goals.