Bana Alabed, a seven-year-old Syrian girl now famous for tweeting candidly about life in war-torn Aleppo, has just received a special delivery: Harry Potter books.
On 21 November, Bana’s mother Fatemah tweeted JK Rowling to tell the author how much her daughter enjoyed the Harry Potter films.
This tweet kicked off a conversation between Fatemah and Rowling on how she could get hold of the books. In a city under siege, beset by endless bombings and the constant threat of destruction, it’s almost impossible to deliver anything. When humanitarian agencies are unable to deliver food, medicine and vital supplies, how could they get books into Aleppo?
With a single stroke of modern magic, Rowling's agent found a way around the problem — simply sending an e-book.
A few days later, Bana tweeted Rowling to thank her for the stories:
It’s a moving scenario, but it’s impossible to ignore the devastating reality behind the story. While Rowling succeeded in granting Bana’s wish for books, aid agencies continue to struggle to reach the 250,000 people trapped in eastern Aleppo.
Many have questioned how Rowling was even able to send the books to such an impenetrable region. As one user pointed out:
Like 4 million Syrian children, Bana and her little brother are currently out of school. She hopes to be a teacher one day, but her education has been put on hold by the conflict.
The six-year long civil war has robbed too many children like Bana of their childhoods. Each day, their hopes of survival dwindle. Earlier in November, Aleppo’s children’s hospital was hit by bombs, forcing doctors to evacuate babies from incubators and transfer patients in ambulances under warplanes and artillery fire. Now, there are no hospitals left in eastern Aleppo.
UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien has described eastern Aleppo as “the apex of horror,” " for the humanitarian tragedy unfolding beneath a crumbling skyline. While a Harry Potter e-book may not have the power to change Bana’s reality, the stories are a reminder of hope in the face of a darkening world.
"Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
— Albus Dumbledore
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