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."

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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