A gush of cold air greeted me as I entered the dimly lit courtroom-turned-Black Box-theatre, with all 120 seats facing one another from all sides of the room, except the stage. In the middle, rows of seats were arranged neatly, facing directly to the stage. The stage was empty, except for a microphone and its stand, and the projector screen flashed the opening PowerPoint slides for Speak4Syria.
It was just after Maghrib, and people were still streaming in, filling up seats on either sides of the room. Before long, everyone was seated.
Speak4Syria is an entirely youth-led event, aimed to create and also increase awareness about the current situation about Syrian refugees. The event also aimed to raise funds for Badan Agama & Pelajaran Radin Mas (BAPA) Relief, a non-profit organisation that actively participates in humanitarian aid missions, obtaining recognition as an important humanitarian and developmental aid agency.
BAPA Relief provides aid in various ways, such as through education and basic necessities. They strictly ensure that all funds they receive would be translated into beneficial things that the refugees are in need of. BAPA Relief wants to represent hope in everything that they do, such that even their social media accounts do not contain bad photos of the dire situation in Syria. Instead, they try to portray the refugees in a different light – when they are laughing, smiling and being happy.
BAPA Relief has been working on Syria refugees since 2011. They made their very first trip to Kilis, Turkey, just at the border of Syria, in 2013, where refugees have fled to start rebuilding their lives. In 2014, BAPA Relief went to Idlib, a city in Syria south west of Aleppo, to provide aid to the Syrians.
Through the funds that they get, one of the ways BAPA Relief provide aid for the Syrians is through education, by building schools and paying the salary of the teachers. They work all year round for these refugees, and would always be the very first organisation to reach out to them in any kind of situation.
Guest performers from various backgrounds supported Speak4Syria by doing spoken word poetry pieces that reached out to the hearts of the audience. The difference genres that were performed explored the dynamics of the dire situation in Syria, and there were plenty of instances where the performers questioned the state of humanity. Some poetry pieces were very personal, leaving the audience teary-eyed, while others made us think.
We are all the same – humans, with red blood, breathing in the same air on the same Earth. This is not just a battle for the Syrians, this is a fight we should all partake, for humanity’s sake.
“…But I am a citizen of Earth
The anxiety of the world is my responsibility
Isn’t that normal? To possess basic empathy?Or do we not bother anymore to stand in solidarity
And accept it all to be just part of destiny?”
– Yasmin Zaini
For more information on how you can contribute, visit www.bapa.org.sg.
words: Nur Khalisah (writer at MIRROR)
photos: Critical Xchange