14 photos of a Syrian wedding show just how resilient love can be.

The explosions. I couldn't help but notice them as I walked about the streets in downtown Damascus in August 2015.

Life would be proceeding normally — shopkeepers selling food, honking cars, couples holding hands, kids running around — and then I would hear a boom.


I had come to Syria to find out what life was like for the Christian communities — about 10% of the population before the war.

Christians have lived in Syria for over 2,000 years — Jesus walked, preached, and taught on this land according to the Bible — but the ongoing conflict has been so brutal that I wondered if that history might come to an end.

A few days after my arrival, I was standing outside my hotel when I saw a wedding party heading to the al-Zaitoun Greek Catholic Church, only a few steps away.

All images by Flavius Mihaies.

The cheerful celebration against the background of a war formed a striking contrast. I grabbed my camera and followed them.

I thought I could pass for one of the wedding photographers if I kept taking pictures.

All of a sudden I could have been at a wedding anywhere, away from the fear and violence.

What are the plans for the future of this young couple, I wondered.

Have they given any thought to emigrating as so many Syrians are doing?

Do they still feel welcome here, a land they've inhabited for over two millennia?

“It's not our country anymore," one wedding guest told me. “Islamists terrorize us to make us leave," his friend added.

I heard a similarly somber assessment from a priest: “There is no side [in this war] interested in the future of Christians. We are the sacrifice of the war."

“The war has made life dangerous and expensive," observed a father of teenager and a young daughter. “Every day when we go out of home, we don't know if we come back."

But with the conflict in its fifth year, some parents are beginning to think there is no future for their children or it is too dark. “Children stopped going to school or are terrified if they still go," one parent said.

“We are thinking of leaving because we are very tired, but no one gives us visas," complained one guest, a retired economist.

I asked if there was anything the West could do to help. “Stop supporting the opposition, stop supporting armed groups in Syria," was a recurring answer.

At the end of the night, minibuses — Damascus's ubiquitous mode of public transportation — picked up some guests.

The newlyweds left last.

During my time in Syria, I saw just how deep Christianity's roots ran. My hotel was on the same street where the apostle Paul was baptized. In one village I visited, Sadad, the people still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ.

While this long history is threatened, the spirit of these people helps me believe that it may still survive the violent challenges it faces now.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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The rafters listened with bewilderment as they were told about toilet paper shortages and the NBA season being canceled and everyone being asked to stay at home. One of the river guides, who had done these kinds of off-grid excursions multiple times, said that they'd often joke about coming back to a completely different world—it had just never actually happened before.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less