Walk addresses conflict in Syria, personal connections to strife

The Syrian-American Council organized the national “Walk for the Children of Syria” to raise awareness. About 130 people walked one-mile on University Drive to raise money for the cause. (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

The Syrian-American Council organized a national “Walk for the Children of Syria” Saturday to raise awareness of the political struggle in the Western Asian country Syria.

In March 2011, citizens in Syria began to protest against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, resulting in many deaths.

Biochemistry freshman Zana Alattar was one of the organizers for the Tempe walk

“Our main goal is to raise awareness of what’s happening in Syria,” Alattar said. “We chose Tempe for the walk because it’s very crowded during the weekends and we thought we could reach more people.”

More than 130 people registered to participate in the one-mile walk.

Participants gathered at a parking lot at University Drive and Forest Avenue.

Participants wore T-shirts with red and green, Syria’s national colors, waved American and Syrian flags and held up posters so passers-by could read them.

“The Syrian-American Council donates $5 for every person who registered for the walk,” Alattar said. “A local sponsor will donate another $5 for everyone who completes it through UNICEF.”

Alattar recently registered the club, Save our Syrian Freedom at ASU, to continue helping Syria.

Business sophomore Rana Dbeis, who helped organize the walk, will be the club’s secretary.

“The events for the club will be similar to the walk,” Dbeis said. “We just want people to know what is going on, and we want to help.”

Zaki Lababidi, president of Arizona’s Syrian-American Council chapter, said he will continue to work until al-Assad is no longer in power.

“Last year when people began to march in the streets, they were met with bullets,” Lababidi said. “The war is watched in silence while he continues his campaign of systematic killing.”

Lababidi said the walk focuses on children because they have suffered the most.

“More than 2,000 children have died so far,” Lababidi said. “Many of them (died), unfortunately, after being tortured.”

The walk will not only raise money for Syria, but it will also inform Americans of their struggle, Lababidi said.

“It is a disgrace to humanity to let someone like this continue killing and destroying our country,” he said. “The Obama administration is helping, but unfortunately not enough.”

The money raised at the event will be used to send to Syria equipment and medical supplies.

Business management sophomore Seema Kassab, a member of the SOS Freedom club, said she feels strongly about helping Syria because she has family in the country who are fighting for their freedom.

“All the people in Syria are struggling right now, and we are here to support their cause and raise awareness,” Kassab said.

 

Reach the reporter at dpbaltaz@asu.edu