More

A heartbreaking photo of a Syrian child went viral. Here are 3 things we can do about it.

We can't unsee that photo of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh. But now, we have a choice: We can turn away, or we can do something about it.

A heartbreaking photo of a Syrian child went viral. Here are 3 things we can do about it.

By now you've probably seen that startling photo of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh from Aleppo, Syria.

Plenty of other powerful and arresting moments have been caught on camera since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. But none of them have managed to send shockwaves around the world quite like this photo, taken by Mahmoud Raslan: a child dressed in dust and soot and a "CatDog" T-shirt, propped up in a bright orange ambulance seat that pops in sharp contrast to his ashen, gray appearance. He's young enough that he could even share a birthday with the raging conflict that still consumes his country — and judging by the blank expression on his bloodied, battered face, he may have lived his entire life in a war zone, too.

It's certainly an arresting image, and it's easy to understand why so many people have responded to it.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is that Daqneesh and his family all survived the hospital airstrike that led to the moment the photograph was taken. Between the Assad regime and ISIS, nearly 500,000 other Syrians haven't been as lucky.


Photo by Zein Al-Rifai/AFP/Getty Images.

Over 18,000 of those casualties — including nearly 5,000 children — have come out of Aleppo, the city where Daqneesh and his family live. Military airstrikes from Russia and the Syrian government have targeted medical facilities in Aleppo held by rebels and humanitarian aid groups, in a blatant violation of Geneva Convention rules.

As a result, 95% of the doctors in the area have already fled the country, leaving only a handful of trained professionals to care for the 600 new urgent-care cases that happen every day in two hospitals. In fact, one of the very first casualties of the war was a cardiologist who was attending to injured protesters during the Arab Spring.

"By making it impossible for people to seek treatment when they were injured — even civilians and children and women who had nothing to do with the anti-government uprising but happened to live in areas that were under the control of opposition groups — they were being collectively punished," Ben Traub of the New Yorker explained in an interview with NPR.

Photo by Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images

We can't un-see that photo of Daqneesh. But now, we have a choice: We can turn away, or we can do something about it.

And if you're one to pick the latter option, here are three ways to start.

1. Donate to the doctors on the ground who continue bringing aid despite the threat of monstrous attacks.

As Traub explained it, Assad's continued assaults on medical workers are "a strategy to make life completely unbearable" — basically, government-sanctioned terrorism.

But groups like the Syrian American Medical Society, INARA, Doctors Without Borders, and the International Medical Corps are out there risking life and limb to provide crucial care for those who need it most. You don't need surgery training of your own to help them out.

Photo by Zein Al-Rifai/AFP/Getty Images.

2. There are plenty of first-response groups in Aleppo trying to protect and save innocent people before they become casualties, and they could use your help as well.

Groups like The White Helmets, Islamic Relief, and the International Rescue Committee are in Syria, searching for victims after these horrendous airstrikes and finding ways to create some sort of "normal" society for them — providing beds, food, and education as best they can.

If more people volunteered their money and time, it would make it that much easier to make a difference.

Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images.

3. Surviving through an armed conflict is a crucial first step. But people also need opportunities to build new communities and improve their lives.

Groups like the Karam Foundation, MercyCorps, UNICEF, and SOS Children's Villages provide educational programs to children along with that ever-important strategic training known as fun — giving children a chance at normalcy and relief, even in the most dire situations.

If you're interested in helping people of all ages get out of those scrappy, overcrowded refugee camps, you can donate to groups like Refugees Welcome, Migrant Offshore Aid Station, or the UNHCR. You can also take the time to educate yourself on your country's refugee entry policies and processes, and look into ways that your community can help improve those numbers and conditions.

Photo by Baraa Al-Halabi/AFP/Getty Images.

Maybe it was easier to ignore the Syrian refugee crisis before it had a human face.

We can't put that knowledge back in the box. But we can do our best to understand this crisis and try to make a difference.

It's easy to feel down or overwhelmed by the awful state of violence in the world. It's easy to ignore the things you've seen and return to the bliss you felt before Omran Daqneesh's heartbreaking visage filled your screen.

But if we all step up and do our part in small ways, we can make the world better for kids like Daqneesh. Because remember: Despite the savagery of that photograph, Daqneesh is still alive. All is not lost.

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.