Will Trump respond to this 7-year-old refugee's plea for help?

7-year-old Bana al-Abed has been called "the voice of Syria."

For months, her tweets leading up to and during the siege in Aleppo gave the world a glimpse into the conflict and its human consequences. The world watched with bated breath and eager eyes as Bana read books, played games, and kept hope alive while bombs went off outside her home.

In December 2016, she was safely evacuated from Aleppo but has continued to send out vital and hopeful information about Syria to her over 300,000 followers.


On Jan. 25, 2017, Bana wrote a letter to newly sworn-in President Trump with a simple request for his new administration.

"Dear Donald Trump," the letter begins. "My name is Bana Alabed and I am 7 years old Syrian girl from Aleppo."

In the letter, which was tweeted by Bana's mother, Bana asks President Trump to help the children of Syria:

"I lived in Syria my whole life before I left from besieged Aleppo on December last year. I am part of Syrian children who have suffered from the Syrian war. But right now I am having peace in my new home of Turkey."

After narrowly escaping a violent and horrifying war, Bana refuses to turn her back on those who didn't make it out with her. In her letter, she implores Trump to help children who are still stuck in the middle of the conflict:

"Millions of Syrian children are not like me right now and suffering in different parts of Syria. They are suffering because of adult people. I know you will be the president of America so can you please save the children and people of Syria? You must do something for the children of Syria because they are like your children and deserve peace like you."

Bana's letter came on the same day the Trump administration announced a plan to bar Syrian refugees from entering the United States.

The president's sweeping executive order also promised an aggressive crackdown on illegal immigration and immediate construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

In addition to Syria, the order promised to freeze immigration from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia, stating that their citizens "would be detrimental to the interests of the United States."

The purpose of the ban, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, is to prevent entry to "people who are from a country that has a propensity for doing harm.”

We all know the president loves Twitter, and if Bana's letter manages to reach him, he will hopefully take her message to heart. If not, it's on the rest of us to amplify her voice and let the world know what's at stake.

That could be a powerful thing, and it's voices like Bana's that are needed to combat the idea that all refugees (or all Muslims) are terrorists who pose a "detrimental" threat to the U.S.

Holding refugees responsible for the actions of an extreme and radicalized few because they happen to share a religion or country of birth sets a dangerous precedent. In an article titled "The U.S. Record Shows Refugees Are Not a Threat," The Migration Policy Institute reported, "The reality is this: The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001. In those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible."

It can take 18-24 months or longer to go through the process of applying for refugee status, being vetted, and being placed in a new home. Any delay or pause to that process puts people at risk while they wait to find out if they'll be able to escape to the safety and security of a new home.

Refugees are people looking for safety and security, a place to start a new life after their homes were destroyed. They're innocent men, women, and children — like Bana — who are caught in the middle of a war they didn't start.

"If you promise you will do something for the children of Syria, I am already your new friend," Bana addresses the president in her letter. "I am looking forward to what you will do."

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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4 minutes of silence can boost your empathy for others. Watch as refugees try it out.

We could all benefit from breaking down some of the walls in our lives.

Images via Amnesty Poland

This article originally appeared on 05.26.16


You'd be hard-pressed to find a place on Earth with more wall-based symbolism than Berlin, Germany.

But there, in the heart of Germany's capital city, strangers sat across from one another, staring into each other's eyes. To the uninitiated, it may look as though you've witnessed some sort of icy standoff. The truth, however, couldn't be more different.

This was about tearing down walls between people.

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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."