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The people of Eastern Ghouta find themselves stranded as they’re caught in a dangerous crossfire between Syrian government troops and opposition forces.

Mohammed Eyad/AFP/Getty Images.

Once known as an oasis just outside of Damascus in Syria, Ghouta has been under siege since 2013. And in an attempt to oust the last rebel-controlled territory, Syrian government troops are launching bombing campaigns and a ground troop offensive.


The bombings have been merciless with reports of more than 13 hospitals and medical facilities damaged or destroyed. Amnesty International stated that the recent bombing campaign is tantamount to war crimes. In addition to air raids and artillery strikes, the Syrian government has closed roads and tunnels.

As a result, some Eastern Ghouta civilians are suffering from severe malnutrition due to food and medical shortages.

Too many lives have already been lost. As of Feb. 26, the death toll has surpassed 700 civilians, many of whom are women and children. The gruesome violence has sparked international outrage. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council — which includes Russia, an ally of the Syrian government — voted for a resolution calling for an immediate 30-day ceasefire. But that wasn’t effective in halting the violence between government and rebel forces.

On Monday, President Vladimir Putin called for a daily “humanitarian pause,” which is essentially a daily 5-hour ceasefire. Theoretically, this will allow people to leave safely.

But people living in Eastern Ghouta are still dealing with the horrific aftermath of the siege and are in need of assistance.

Hamza Al-Ajweh/AFP/Getty Images.

As more devastating photos continue to surface, it's easy to feel hopeless about what's going on in Syria. But it’s our responsibility, not as members of a developed country, but as basic human beings, to do what we can to help those in need. It’s hard to know where to start — so we put together a few options.

1. Donate to Doctors Without Borders

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, is a global non-governmental organization dedicated to providing medical relief to war-torn territories and underdeveloped countries.

As of Feb. 21,13 MSF-supported medical facilities and clinics were bombed in the recent air raid. Donating to MSF allows them to continue operating in the region, providing life-saving medical supplies and equipment.

You can send them money here.

2. Support the International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee is another international NGO that provides humanitarian aid, relief, and support to millions of people displaced due to conflict or natural disasters. They have been at the forefront for advocating on behalf of Syrian refugees and providing them with humanitarian necessities as the civil war continues.

You can send them money here.

3. Listen and amplify Syrian voices

The war in Syria has generated a lot of headlines, which in turn, has brought a lot of pundits and experts to the forefront of the conversations. Some have partisan affiliations or an affinity towards a certain stakeholder in this complicated conflict where multiple of governments and non-state actors are involved.

But the fact remains that those who are dealing with the brunt of the bloodshed are Syrians. While it’s good to gain insight and perspective from foreign policy experts and journalists, it’s critical to understand what life is like for Syrians living in conflict zones and refugee camps. This is why it’s imperative to not only listen to them, but to amplify their voices whether that’s through sharing their Facebook post or hold events and/or panel discussions in your community.

4. Learn more about what’s happening in Syria

Abdulmonam Eassa/AFP/Getty Images.

It’s important to understand what is happening in the Syrian Civil War to help with families suffering in Eastern Ghouta. You can start with these reports and fact sheets from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs. More importantly, share these resources and reading material to your network. Educate others.

5. Be involved and get active

Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

You can find a list of protests for Eastern Ghouta here. Sign petitions like this one from Amnesty International. Call your local representatives. Use social media to share photos and footage from the demonstrations you attend, and retweet the ones you didn’t.

6. Spread hope

Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images.

Spreading hope is something everyone can do. You can send messages of solidarity to those on the ground in Eastern Ghouta on Twitter and Facebook. You can upload a video offering your support or making a prayer for the innocent men, women, and children under siege.

It was Medgar Evers, a black activist at the height of the Civil Rights Era, that said, “you can kill a man, but not an idea.” There’s truth to that statement. But sometimes, especially after hearing about the turmoil and devastating death toll, hope feels like the hardest thing to keep alive. But when we do, it can make all the difference in the world.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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