This filmmaker is re-enacting a tragic attack to show the world what Syria faces daily.

On Aug. 21, 2013, filmmaker Humam Husari woke up to one of the most horrific attacks of the Syrian civil war.

The rebel-held region of Ghouta outside Damascus, Syria, was hit by rockets containing sarin gas, a deadly chemical generally considered to be a weapon of mass destruction.

The number of casualties is still uncertain according to the United Nations, but estimates range from 281 to around 1,400 casualties with 3,000 wounded.


Syrian director Humam Husari (right) and cameraman Sami al-Shami (center) film a scene. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

"Survivors reported that following an attack with shelling, they quickly experienced a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, disorientation, eye irritation, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and general weakness," reported UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Husari told Al Jazeera he heard car horns and ambulances that morning and saw on Facebook that the attacks happened just a few miles from his home.

He grabbed his video camera and started filming wounded victims in a nearby field hospital.

"I wasn't filming because I am a cameraman, I was filming because this is the only thing I could do for the victims," he told Reuters in 2016.

Journalists rushed to the scene to document the attack. Many of them did not survive because of exposure to the deadly gas. Husari was fortunate enough to survive.

"You don't have the chance to grieve. You don't have the chance to be sad," Husari told Al Jazeera in 2013. "You can just be panicked or worried, and feel helpless."

After the attacks, Husari continued to work as a journalist covering the war. "I feel I have a responsibility in the future to tell this story, these stories, through cinema and drama. That's usually what happens after every war," he told Reuters.

Husari (center left) and al-Shami (center right) operate a camera for a scene in Zamalka, in the Damascus suburbs. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

In 2016, Husari began production on a short film based on real events during the attacks.

The film was shot in Zamalka, a suburb where several rockets struck during the attack. He used local people who survived the attacks, all of whom were either witnesses or victims.

The self-financed film follows a man who loses his wife and child in the attacks and was denied time to bury them. He is then called up to take up arms to defend their region.

Making the film is a necessary experience for Husari.

It offers him an opportunity to process what he went through and also show the world as well.

Actors perform in the Husari-directed film. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

It was an emotional experience making the film. "I was amazed with how much those people were able to express their tragedy and to cooperate with me on this movie," he told Reuters.

People re-enact the attack in a scene from the film. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

Despite all they’ve been through, they were willing to re-enact these terrible events to give voice to those who perished.

Husari told Reuters, "A 70-year-old man said to me: 'I want to be part of this movie because I lost 13 of my family ... I want the world to know what we've been through.'"

The short film involved local people who witnessed the attack. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

The film's star Mohamed Demashki, a former business student and bodybuilder, told Reuters, "It tries to convey to the world that the people who live here are not just fighters, they are not terrorists. They are people with a life. The war conditions them to become fighters," he said.

The Syrian government still denies responsibility for the Ghouta chemical attack.

The film will hopefully help the world understand the plight of everyday people in Syria.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."