© UNICEF/UN039304/Al-Issa

Being born in Aleppo was always considered a rich blessing in eight-year-old Huda’s family. That changed abruptly when violent conflict reduced the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city to rubble.

To protect her five children from indiscriminate daily attacks, Huda’s mother Manal fled with them to a neighbourhood on the west side of the city, with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Huda often thinks about her old home. “I remember the glittering stars that decorated my bedroom ceiling,” she says, tears welling in her eyes. “I used to look at them before sleeping. It made me feel happy, imagining that I was in space.”

Now, instead of going to bed peacefully under glowing stars, Huda and hundreds of thousands of other Syrian children sleep to the noise of heavy shelling – it’s a terrifying soundtrack.
Eight year-old Huda looks out of a window at her temporary home in western Aleppo. © UNICEF/UN039305/Al-Issa


Adapting to new living


The war has forced Huda’s family to flee twice. First they moved to a shell of a building where her parents learned how to build a fire for cooking and heating, and how to fetch water from nearby wells. “I felt like I was Robinson Crusoe, living with my family in an uninhabited place, trying to survive,” says Huda’s father.

But their time in their new home was short-lived. “I got used to the house until one day we had to evacuate again,” recalls his wife Manal. “We ran like crazy under fire, I was holding Huda and my husband was carrying our eight-month-old baby Mohammed, while our other three girls clung to us.”

Manal put all her efforts into making a family home out of the tiny rented apartment they now live in. Despite having a roof over their heads, life continues to be disrupted as cuts to water and power regularly force them to cope without these essential supplies.
Huda collects water from a tap stand in western Aleppo in the Syrian Arab Republic. © UNICEF/UN039299/Al-Issa

Huda, who dreams of becoming a paediatrician when she grows up, helps her father carry the water on a daily basis from a nearby water filling point, installed by UNICEF. She and her siblings cart heavy loads of water in the blazing summer heat and through cold winter storms.

“One day, I was pushing a cart filled with jerry cans home, and as I got close to the house, I lost my balance and slipped,” says Huda. “The cart flipped upside down, and the water spilled all over the street,” she says, biting her lip as she remembers her anger and frustration.

For children living in one of the deadliest places on earth, this lack of safe water is a continuous threat to their survival. Alongside 100,000 children living in east Aleppo, nine-year-old Judy has been robbed of her childhood. Instead of going to school or playing with friends, her life is full of constant stress.

“I fear the sounds of continuous bombing,” she says. “I also worry about lack of water and electricity, especially now we are getting close to winter. We used to bathe every day, but now we can’t.”
Judy, 9, and her schoolmates pass the rubble of nearby houses as they return from school. © UNICEF/UN034445/Zayat


Taps running dry


Nearly five million people across Syria – about half of whom are children – suffer the consequences of long and sometimes deliberate interruptions to their water supplies. Water cuts and attacks on pumping stations regularly deny the people of Aleppo water. Since the beginning of the year, some water pumping stations have been out of service for more than 123 days.

In Aleppo, UNICEF and partners have trucked up to 1.5 billion litres of water and delivered more than 4 million litres of fuel to run the city’s four pumping stations. Additionally, UNICEF has supplied 80 tons of water disinfectant; rehabilitated the water network system; provided more than 15,000 hygiene kits for internally displaced people; and raised the awareness of 100,000 children to the importance of safe water, hygiene and sanitation practices. Over the past few years, UNICEF has also constructed alternative water sources by building 100 underground water wells.

“Children in Aleppo are showing extraordinary courage in the face of huge uncertainty,” says Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative in Syria. “While we have been able to improve access to safe water for children and families, we have never been able to respond to the one question all children ask: ‘When will this war end?’ I long for the day we can give them the answer.”
Huda collects water and takes a quick sip from a tap stand in western Aleppo.© UNICEF/UN039304/Al-Issa

Buy a gift that saves lives


Emergencies like the Syrian conflict stop children getting the safe water they need to survive. This Christmas, buy a gift that brings clean water to children with no other options. It's this simple:

1. Purchase a UNICEF Inspired Gift of 10,000 water purification tablets for just $69.

2. A personalised card will be sent to your loved one telling them about the life-saving work they're helping to achieve.

3. 10,000 water purification tablets will be sent wherever the need is greatest in the 190 countries UNICEF works in. Each tablet turns five litres of dirty water into a clean, safe source of life.

A gift dedicated to your loved one is made even more special by the fact that you are supporting children who need it most. Feel good by purchasing a Inspired Gift today.

Comments