On the evening of September 28th, the US Mission to the United Nations and the U.K. Mission to the United Nations hosted a screening of the compelling, short documentary, “White Helmets.” In short, the documentary, set in Aleppo, Syria in early 2016, highlights the lives of three volunteer rescue workers from the White Helmets. The White Helmets, founded by Raed Saleh, is a group comprised of Syrian civilians who volunteer to serve as the first responders after air strike bomb attacks in Syria. The documentary paints a stirring portrait of Syrians who have not left Syria. They remain, dedicating their lives to protecting their neighbors- in all truth, the profound human spirit present in the film will produce goosebumps over your body, and quite possibly, tears in your eyes.
Ambassador Samantha Power, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, gave beautiful opening remarks. Ambassador Power perfectly stated, “This is not one of those movies that you look forward to…But the vicious escalation of the last week makes the viewing of this documentary even more necessary. We have to face this.”
She went on to detail the significance of air strikes and their impact on the lives of the White Helmets, as she informed us that three of the four bases the White Helmets occupy have been attacked. This movie stunningly captures the power of sacrifice in helping one another when it seems like all has been lost. Ambassador Power beautifully states;
“One of the reasons the documentary you are just about to see is so powerful is because it reminds us of the basic human impulse to be decent, the impulse to take care of one another, particularly in times of bloodshed and profound suffering. Listen to the way the White Helmets talk in this documentary about what drives them to risk their lives to save others.”
I highly encourage you all to watch this movie when you can. There will be moments in which you laugh, moments in which you will shutter at the image on the screen, moments in which you will cry, moments that will make you want to scream. These emotions are all necessary. It’s safe to say most of us will never understand what exactly Syrians have gone through, but through films like this, at least we grow in awareness. Through films like this, we gain knowledge of an issue and reality we will no longer be able to walk away from. I hope these images stay with you, haunting you like they have haunted me. In our hauntings, I hope we are able to proceed forward with ignited hearts and aware minds. It is possible that by the time you’ve finished reading my short review, that an air strike would have came down in Aleppo. So as you read this, and potentially go on to watch the movie, in the comfort of your own home, office, desk, couch, or wherever you may be- it’s important to keep in mind those who’s homes are being stripped from them.
I encourage you all to read the full text of Ambassador Power’s remarks: http://usun.state.gov/remarks/7460