It all began with a Tweet.
She was just 7 years old last September and she had already seen what no 7-year old -- or 70-year oldshould have to see. Living in Aleppo with her parents and two brothers amid the bombs and screams, she only wanted one thing. "I need peace," she wrote in her first Twitter posting. A little later she wrote: "I can't go out because of the bombing. Please stop bombing us."
Since that time, she she has garnered 362 thousand followers on her @AlabedBana feed and has been dubbed Syria's Anne Frank for giving a child's eye view of trying to grow up amid the horrors of war. Showing the power of sharing through words and stories, Bana and her family's isolation was eased as she began getting supportive messages back on Twitter.
She has recently published a book: "Dear World," which tells of the loss of friends, of hiding in bomb shelters and of seeing her beloved home destroyed by bombs.
“I didn’t know what it was when the first big bomb came. It was just a regular day,” she writes in the book, as reported by The New York Post. She was sitting on the floor playing with her dolls, making them “talk in a funny voice” when “suddenly there was a BOOM! It was the loudest noise I had ever heard in my life, a noise so big you could feel it in your body, not just hear it. The sound and the surprise made my body feel like jelly. "
She learned about the differences between phosphorous bombs and cluster bombs and what it was like to lose her best friend, Yasmin, who lived in the building next door. "[Her] black hair was completely white with dust like she was old. The only place she didn’t have dust was on her cheeks, where tears were running down her face,” Bana wrote. “She was floppy like she was asleep, and a had a lot of blood and dust on her. I couldn’t move or breathe because I was so scared seeing my friend like that … I couldn’t play the rest of the day — all I could do was see Yasmin and all the blood on her in my mind.”
Not long after that, her own apartment building was destroyed.
“This is our house," she wrote in a Twitter posting. "My beloved dolls died in the bombing of our house. I am very sad but happy to be alive.” The family found an empty building to sleep in but had nothing to eat, drink or beds to sleep on.
"I had never felt worse inside before,” she wrote. “Hungry and thirsty and tired and scared and sad and freezing cold, since we had no heat or blankets. My ears were still ringing from the bombs too. It was so many bad feelings at the same time that I didn’t know what to do. I just laid in Mummy’s lap and tried not to think about anything at all.”
Just before the family was evacuated in December of that year along with other civilians in rebel-held territories, she wrote one last message from Syria. “My name is Bana, I’m 7 years old. I am talking to the world now live from East Aleppo. This is my last moment to either live or die.”
Her book now tells her full story.
My first student walked in shyly. She didn't have much confidence and kept her head down. The job was to analyze a poem by Audre Lorde for her composition class. The poem was complex and dense and reading it was a revelation as much for me as it was for her. We worked slowly analyzing it together. The main thing was she was afraid to say what she thought. My goal was to get her to hear her own voice in relationship to the poem. At the end of our session -- her voice was stronger -- and we both understood something more ab out Audre's Lorde's work. And when the student walked out, I felt she wasn't hiding anymore. I fell in love with the process of helping her get to that quiet confidence -- and her Eureka moments. And I couldn't wait for the next student to walk in the door...