‘I’d much rather save a life than take a life…’

This is a quote from one of the volunteers from Syria Civil Defence, a volunteer organisation which operates in rebel-controlled Turkey and Syria. Unofficially, they call themselves ‘The White Helmets’, and a short documentary film of the same name was produced about them last year.

The White Helmets film poster: Website

‘I’d much rather save a life than take a life…’

Imagine, even just for a minute, that one day you feel safe – inside your home with your nearest and dearest – and the next, that feeling of warmth and security has been snatched so barbarically from you. What do you do? How do you feel? How is anyone meant to cope in such unwelcome, UNEXPECTED, situations? This is where The White Helmets enter.

In aid of Refugee Week 2017 Books for Amnesty in Hammersmith joined forces with Hammersmith and Fulham Refugees Welcome  to organise the film screening of ‘The White Helmets’, which creates a visual representation of the true reality facing civilians within Syria and Turkey.

Books for Amnesty, Hammersmith – the film screening venue

A White Helmet is no superhuman, although one could easily argue otherwise. They have backgrounds in various avenues of life: some previously working as pharmacists, bakers, tailors, some even students (like myself). All 3,200 of these like-minded individuals unite under one shared motto: ‘to save one life, is to save all of humanity’. Despite the many risks they may face in the aftermaths of bombed areas and airstrikes, these volunteers seek to save lives, having already saved close to 100,000 en-counting.

‘to save one life, is to save all of humanity’.

With reference to the screening, and as their website states:

“When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need – regardless of their religion or politics. Known as the White Helmets these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth.”

As is probably evident, my thoughts are still processing themselves. Sitting in the centre of a bookshop, which fundraises and advocates for the rights and freedoms of every single human being, it’s almost difficult to believe that these brutal conditions are what many people are still facing as a result of a civil war.

Inside the bookshop

It’s touching. It’s human. And it’s happening right now.

The film, which runs for approximately 40 minutes, can be found on Netflix. While I was aware of this, I still wanted to attend the screening to be in the presence of those who also feel strongly about advocating for the rights of vulnerable people who have to leave their home countries to seek refuge. And any Amnesty International location has such an inspiring atmosphere. Attending the Refugee Week Conference earlier this year made me even more determined to fight for what I believe in and pursue my interests. And the bookshop also seeps a similar feeling.

I would highly recommend watching ‘The White Helmets’ to get a visual understanding of those who are in danger, and those who risk their lives to save others.

It’s touching. It’s human. And it’s happening right now.


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