As Ameenah Sawwan, a 23-year-old student from Moadamiyah, Damascus, spoke to the capacity crowd at the Logan Center for the Arts in Chicago, her voice shook slightly and her words felt like wounds being opened again.
“The day of the chemical attacks, I was up late preparing some activities for the kids,” Ms. Sawwan said. “When we found out that chemical weapons had been used in Moadamiya, I rushed to the field hospital with my cousin.”
Ms. Sawwan, a resident of Moadamiya, a suburb of Damascus, had received field medic training. “On the way to the field hospital,” she said, “there were people on the floor, spasming or paralysed or suffocating.”
“We didn’t have enough atropine except for the worst cases. Kids were suffocating in front of us and we couldn’t do anything for them.”
More than 100 people gathered Sunday, January 26, on the University of Chicago campus to learn about the Syrian conflict at an event co-sponsored by Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) and Amnesty International (AI).
Noura Almasri, ZF Middle East program director, talked about the humanitarian crisis in Syria, where 6.5 million people have been internally displaced, 2.4 million have fled to neighboring countries and 9.3 million are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance.
Ms. Almasri also paid particular attention to the use of rape as a weapon of war in Syria.
“A woman may be raped in front of her husband, father, brother or kids,” Ms. Almasri said. “Rape is being used systematically to humiliate the victims and terrorize civilians.”
As the hearts of good people around the world break for Syria, ZF is on the ground in Syria and the neighboring countries delivering food, medical aid and development programs for the Syrian people. Please donate to Syrian relief, and pray for the healing of the Syrian nation.