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."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less