Apr 12th, 2017, 05:46 PM

The Heroic White Helmets in Syria

By Signi Livingstone-Peters
Image credit: White Helmuts
When the bombs rain down, the White Helmets rush in.

For the past six tragic years in Syria, it's been all to easy to lose the plot. "Things began simply enough, another promising bud in the Arab Spring —­ ordinary citizens marching peacefully against a Middle Eastern despot," observed Time magazine. The peaceful, pro-democracy protests seemed optimistic after previous Arab Spring movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya.

Peaceful and optimistic until the Syrian regime opened fire. 

The Syrian War. Image credit: Shutterstock

What gradually bore witness to the core of the ongoing conflict was not necessarily the haze and confusion of the war itself, as its oppressive and odious atmosphere that emanates through global media and creates a poisonous image of this beautiful country. According to Jared Malsin, "all wars produce ­confusion — for chaos, nothing else comes close — but even the most brutal contests produce a glimmer of hope, or at least some sense of what is driving people to put their lives on the line. Yet to outsiders, 5½ years of revolution and war in Syria might appear to have produced mostly villains, along with refugees and numbing images of suffering on a blasted landscape."

With over 1,000 troops in opposition to Bachar al-Assad's regime and a worsening conflict, that only seems to become increasingly normalized the heroic acts and the desire to make a tangible difference have become somewhat elusive. “I believe the international community let us down and did nothing to stop Russia and Assad’s massacres,” says Najmaldin Khaled, 30, a teacher living in the area under siege. “We are dying every minute, every hour.” 

Image credit: White Helmuts

Here's where the White Helmets come in. "Ordinary Syrians emerged from the dust that hangs over the rubble of cities like Aleppo, double-­timing it into some of the most dangerous places on earth to do what the world has refused to do — save Syrian lives," says Malsin. The White Helmets (Arabic: الخوذ البيضاء ,القبعات البيضاء‎‎ al-Ḥawdh al-Bayḍāʾ / al-Qubaʾāt al-Bayḍāʾ), otherwise known as the Syrian Civil Defense, is a 100% volunteer organization that currently operates in parts of Syria controlled by rebel groups.

Since 2012, the headlines of media have been dictated by graphic images of terror, diminishing cities and extremists. Today, it's the right time to shift the spotlight to where it truly belongs in a time of turmoil — on civil defenders carrying a humble, intrinsic message of peace across the devastated interior of the war splintered country. 

White Helmets | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

This volunteer group has saved 85,228 lives in Syria. Because of this, they are under constant attack — thus putting their lives at an even greater risk to save others. "When the bombs rain down, the White Helmets rush 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. Forming the Syria Civil Defense, their distinctive uniform of a white helmet now symbolizes hope for millions." The White Helmets were favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016. Although they did not get it, they are still in the running to receive the Nobel for 2017. Show your solidarity by voting for these heroes in such a deadly, ongoing conflict here.

Image credit: White Helmuts