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For months, this girl painted a frightening picture of Aleppo. Today, she's finally safe.

Bana al-Abed is safe, but there are still others who need our help.

For months, this girl painted a frightening picture of Aleppo. Today, she's finally safe.

There's some good news from Aleppo: 7-year-old Bana al-Abed and her family have been safely evacuated out of the Syrian city.

Over the course of the past several months, Bana and her mother Fatemah have live-tweeted the reality of life in a war zone. With more than 340,000 followers, Bana's Twitter account has helped put a face to the horrors facing the city.

Last week, Bana's followers watched as she and her mother tweeted final messages and waited for the end. Their fate uncertain, supporters braced for the worst.


On Monday morning, it was reported that Bana and her family made it out of East Aleppo alive, something she frequently doubted would ever happen.

Bana and Fatemah. Photo by Qasioun News Agency via AP

While Bana's safety will bring comfort to her many fans and supporters, we can't forget those who remain trapped in the conflict.

The Syrian civil war has killed an estimated 470,000 people and left 11 million Syrian citizens displaced. Nearly 500,000 children just like Bana live in portions of Syria under threat, with nearly 100,000 in East Aleppo. What was once their home has been reduced to rubble, a chewed-up battlefield.

With millions of lives hanging in the balance, and the rest of the world so seemingly slow to help, it's easy to feel as though there's nothing you can do on an individual level for those who remain. Luckily, that's not quite the case.

Bana and her brother near their home in October. Photo by Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images.

There are a number of organizations working to help the people of Aleppo — and they could really use all of our support.

If you're looking for a way to help, you might want to consider making a donation to groups like the White Helmets, Doctors Without Borders, the Syrian American Medical Society, International Rescue Committee, and Save the Children. There's also refugee support organizations like the UN Refugee Agency, Questscope, and the Migrant Offshore Aid Station. Upworthy recently put together an overview of what these organizations do and how you can support them that can be found here.

Even if you're not in a position to financially back these organizations, there are other things you can do to show support for those affected by the crisis. Whether it's something as simple as sharing stories like Bana's and those about other refugees or by organizing or attending protests, these small acts are more than symbolic.

Bana and her brother in October. Photo by Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images.

Bana has made it out alive, but her struggle is far from over. With all of our help, we can fight back against this atrocity.

No 7-year-old should fear for her life. No 7-year-old should have to stand by while missiles and bombs destroy her home. No 7-year-old should ever be made to feel that the world has forgotten her. Let's not forget the others who still need our help.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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This article originally appeared on 03.19.15


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