8-year-old Bana Alabed documents Syrian war on Twitter and in new book
“I started tweeting and the world started to know what life is like.”
“Does anyone know what has happened to us?” Bana Alabed was 7 years old when she asked her mom Fatemah this question. After witnessing unimaginable horrors in Aleppo and struggling to get food and water, it seemed to Bana like the rest of the world had forgotten them.
So she began documenting the Syrian war through Twitter. With the help of Fatemah, Bana tweeted about what she saw around her.
“I started tweeting and the world started to know what life is like,” she says. “Today my school bombed. I want them to know it. I want them to know how the children like me live.”
Bana’s simple yet arresting accounts of the Syrian war captivated audiences from around the world. Her account attracted hundreds of thousands of followers — including J.K. Rowling, who sent Bana the “Harry Potter” series in ebook form after hearing she was a fan.
An avid reader, Bana’s education was put on hold after her school was bombed. Bana describes the day it happened: “I was learning at school and the war plane was in the sky. My teacher told us to go home because it was dangerous. When we were going to our house, we heard a big bomb and we run.”
Determined to still give Bana the opportunity to learn, Fatemah began an informal classroom with the other mothers. “I love learning with her,” Bana says looking up at her mom with a huge smile.
Now 8 years old, Bana recently published a book about her life, “Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace.” Bana says that she decided to write the book “to tell the world my story about the child in Syria.”
Bana did many of the illustrations in “Dear World” — she loves drawing for fun. Her favourite illustrations from the book are pictures she created of a butterfly, a sun and a moon.
Bana and her family fled Syria this year and now live in Turkey. She finally returned to the classroom this month: “I feel very happy now. I have friends and I have a teacher.” Bana’s favourite subject in school is math — she even brought her math homework with her to New York for the launch of “Dear World.” She wants to become a teacher like her mom one day.
In the meantime, Bana has a simple hope for the world: “I want all the children to go to school. I want them to live in peace. I don’t want them to lose hope.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tess Thomas is editor of Assembly, a digital publication and newsletter from Malala Fund. She loves books, cats and french fries.