The Stories We Don’t Want to Tell: Aleppo

I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t want to write about it, or read about it, or learn more. Within the borders of our country I worry about our democracy; within the borders of my home there is snow falling outside the window and the smell of baking within. I don’t want to pay attention to what’s happening across the world, in Syria.

But I have to.

Aleppo is a city in the north of Syria. It used to be one of the country’s largest cities, with 2.3 million people. It was, actually, quite lovely.

Ancient Aleppo from Citadel

By anjci [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

But it has been in the crosshairs of a war for four long years, and it no longer looks like that. It looks like a bombed-out shell.


By Gabriele Fangi, Wissam Wahbeh [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

This article from the BBC has photos of the before and after — old markets, historic sites, neighborhoods. The article also talks about who is fighting, and why, but the point, for those of us here, is not why, but who is left.

Recently the United Nations warned that over 100,000 civilians were trapped in the city as government forces pushed to take final control from the rebels who have been fighting them. Hospitals have been bombed. Food is running out. People are trapped and scared and the world is hearing this and not acting.

I don’t want to talk about this.

I don’t want to hear our United Nations ambassador Samantha Power, speaking to the Syrian government, saying “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin?”

But we have to hear.

There are some incredible and heroic groups working to save people in Aleppo, and their stories move me almost as much as the tragedies of those who are trapped. I’ve donated money, given more donations as gifts in people’s names, and talked them up whenever the subject arises. But it doesn’t feel like enough.

So when my wonderful author-friend Rachael Allen (who writes some of the most hilarious and swoony YA when she’s not being a neuroscientist or SuperMom), contacted me and said she wanted to do SOMETHING  for Aleppo, I was delighted. She wanted to try and rally the children’s writing community to raise more funds, and I was grateful to her for having the idea, and for galvanizing me to action.

Here we go.

Rachael and I decided that we’d try a fast Twitter-based fundraiser, where (hopefully) numerous authors will offer prizes to those who donate to one of the worthy organizations helping in Aleppo. Here’s how it will work:


WHERE: TWITTER – look for the hashtag #KidlitForAleppo

WHAT: A group of authors will offer these prizes under the hashtag #KidlitForAleppo on Twitter. Prizes will include critiques, signed books, signed advanced reader copies of books not out yet, and more!

WHO: Anyone who donates to one of the following organizations, or another proven organization doing work on the ground in Aleppo. Just screenshot your donation (keep private info private, of course) and respond to the author’s tweet.

RULES: Only one prize per donation, using the honor system. Don’t be a jerk.

DONATE: Any one of the following organizations are amazing and worth your money:

There are other trustworthy organizations worth donating to, and certainly if people choose to donate that counts toward a prize. Some other groups mentioned here are also doing good work.

AUTHORS: If you want to participate, email me or just jump in tomorrow on Twitter, offering a prize for those who donate, using the hashtag #KidlitForAleppo.

ASPIRING WRITERS/EDUCATORS/READERS/BOOK LOVERS: Please consider getting on Twitter tomorrow and searching the hashtag, and making a donation. Some wonderful authors will be offering prizes, all for a good cause.

So, again, I don’t really want to talk about this, and I don’t know if it will make a difference. The whole “light a candle instead of cursing the darkness thing” — it can feel pointless. After all, one candle doesn’t feel like much. But when everyone lights a candle…

Well. The light gets brighter, that’s all.


2007 Virginia Tech massacre candlelight vigil 4

By Anonymous contributor (Anonymous contributor) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

16 comments to The Stories We Don’t Want to Tell: Aleppo

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