Children don’t know war, but they’re always the first to get hurt by it. The Middle East has been witnessing violence, war, and prejudice for decades with no sign or hope of it ending soon. Families who have lost their homes and their future are in desperate need of a ‘ray of light’.
The war-torn landscape has led many NGOs to step forward and help children who’ve been suffering from the impacts of war, injured and desperate as they’re unable to attain medical care or access proper treatments due to war. And here is where the Syrian CNN journalist, Arwa Damon stepped in, founding the International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance (INARA), which means a ray of light in Arabic.
Arwa is an award-winning, senior international correspondent and granddaughter of former Syrian prime minister, Muhsin al-Barazi, who felt obligated to do something and help in filling the gap in accessing medical treatments for children. It all started with a 5-year-old Iraqi boy who inspired Arwa to correct what was wrong; his name was Youssif. One day he was playing on the street right in front of his house when a group of masked men came and decided to throw gasoline and set fire to his face. To this day no one knows the reason behind such a violent attack.
Youssif’s father went from ministry to ministry, searching and trying to reach out to every aid organization to help his son. He just wanted his little boy back. Eventually, the father succeeded in spreading his boy’s story when CNN’s call for action exceeded everything he imagined, as Los Angeles Children’s Burn Foundation took up his case and ended up donating hundreds of thousands of dollars. From that point, Arwa was inspired to start her own non-profit to built links for those who need help.
INARA doesn’t compete with other institutes and NGOs, it simply provides what’s missing. That can vary from medical treatments, financial assistance, and building partnerships to secure pro bono treatment or reduce costs for care. Dedicated caseworkers are also available for each child in INARA to establish links between those vulnerable children and a network of medical providers. INARA follows the case from the beginning of treatment to the end, including the rehabilitation stages.
The organization’s initial operation is based in Beirut, where Arwa perceives it as the operational blueprint for the expansion of the NGO to other countries and fully recognizing the different needs and gaps in each country.
Arwa told CNN, “In a world where evil appears to be thriving, where it seems that humanity has failed itself, this is our part in trying to bring people together for the sake of the most vulnerable victims of war. I believe this is our fundamental humanitarian responsibility.”