I watched the documentary The White Helmets. It was one of the most emotional things I have ever watched, there were moments where I cried and moments where I could not help but smile. The movie was about a group called The White Helmets that are the first responders to airstrikes and bombing in Syria. Their motto “To save a life is to save all of humanity” really struck me. They had such positive views about the world and constantly talked about how they are optimistic for the future, no matter how bad the days get. They risk their lives each day leaving wives and children behind to go save other people’s families. One of the men said that he did it because “all lives are precious and valuable. A child, even if he is not my son, is like my son”. All of them had incredible drives to do this, and many found that drive in their religion Islam. I wish that Islamophobes could watch this film and see the amazing acts of humanity that were done in the name of Allah. These were acts of peace and love, not of violence and hatred as is often the misconceived perception of Islam. One man even said that he was part of an armed militia fighting the Assad regime but he stopped because “it is better to do humanitarian work than to be armed… better to rescue a soul than to take one”. Even though he believed in what he was fighting for he could not do it because it was not in his heart to harm another person. He also said that “any human being, no matter who they are or which side they’re on, if they need our help, it’s our duty to save them” for the White Helmets it is not about fighting on one side of the war or the other it is about saving the people who are caught in the middle. One of the most touching moments was when they saved who they came to call the miracle baby. A one-week-old baby was pulled out of the rubble after being there for almost 20 hours. He was completely unharmed, and his mother brings him later to visit the men who saved him. He is their beacon of hope that what they are doing has an impact on the world. While not mentioned in the documentary I learned that there are also groups of female White Helmets who rescue women and children in regions where men are not allowed to save women. I thought that it was a very impactful idea that in a culture where women receive such little respect that they could such an important position and show that they too can be brave. The whole organization is not very large but they have a huge impact. They are proof that there are people fighting in the Syrian civil war that have no other intention than to help people. Since 2013, 130 White Helmets have died. And in that same period of time, they have saved over 58,000 lives.
Over a period of under 2 hours, me and a couple hundred other student-athletes, and alumni packaged over 200,000 meals to be distributed to regions of Ohio facing food insecurity. It was the 2018 Kind Columbus service event and it was run by an organization called The Pack Shack that puts on Feed the Funnel parties. There were hundreds of people and we all lined up at tables with 6 people per station. Then in an assembly line fashion, we would pour each ingredient down the funnel and into the bag, each time packaging a meal that could be a dinner for a family of 4. The event was designed to be a fun way to do service. It was very high energy, we listened to loud music and cheered and danced each time we were done packaging 20,000 meals. Before we started the athletic director gave a short speech about how food insecurity affected him, and how when he was growing up it was his responsibility to take the food stamps and go collect the government cheese and bread. He also talked about how privileged we all are to able to attend a university much less a university like Ohio State, and he said in order to learn you need food. I realized that it is not something we always think about, even if children work hard and school and want to work their way out of poverty it will be almost impossible if they have no food. It was really motivational to think about how much giving food to people in need helps their life. Over the course of this month, The Pack Shack will provide 2 million meals to people in need all over Ohio. But food insecurity is so much greater than this. Food insecurity stems not from a lack of food on Earth but instead an unequal distribution of food around the world, and unfortunately, 2 million meals is but a small dent. What the Pack Shack is doing though is a start, by creating a fun event that accomplishes a lot in a short amount of time they help enc0urage people who would not normally volunteer, or who do not have a lot of time to volunteer to make a difference.
I attended a showing and a panel on the documentary by the Columbus Crossing Boarders Projected called Breath Free. The film itself was very enlightening and interesting to watch. The film flipped back and forth between the stories of many immigrants and their journies from their home to Columbus, and the story of a group of artists that came together to use their talents to put on an art gallery portraying the story of such immigrants. The stories the immigrants told were that of incredible bravery some leaving their home at a young age and other fleeing with their children. It was one thing to hear the stories told on the screen but the panel that followed included two of the immigrants interviewed for the documentary and it made their stories that much more real as they sat before me. Both of them after being resettled had chosen to work with CRIS an organization that aids immigrants in Columbus so that they could help others. Among the other panelists was the lead artist for the art gallery featured in the documentary. The way the art gallery worked was that every artist would contribute one piece with a message about immigration then the pieces would be lined up and going with the theme of crossing borders each artist would paint a little bit on the next piece so that they flowed together. The idea behind this was that for artists the idea of letting someone else touch their work makes them uncomfortable. In the same way that immigrating can be uncomfortable for both the immigrant and the people who now have new neighbors. The art showed that while this was uncomfortable it could be done and the end result was beautiful. I was in awe of all of the art and wished that I had a greater talent for art myself. But the documentary did give me a greater perspective of what it is like to be an immigrant or a refugee. After hearing the stories presented in the documentary and in the panel I believe that I am better equipped to deal with people who in our current political climate feel hatred towards immigrants and refugees. I think for anyone with a negative opinion of immigrants that this documentary would easily shift their view point.
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