The Syrian Civil war is currently the second deadliest war of the 21st century. Large parts of Syria have been completely destroyed by the lengthy civil war that has claimed between 384,000 to about 586,100 lives. Amid the bedlam of this ever bloodier civil war, volunteer rescuers go where others do not dare to tread.
Khaled Farah was a first responder for the White Helmets, which is a rescue team that searches for and rescues Syrian civilians who become the collateral damage of this civil war. On July 11, 2014, a barrel bomb was dropped in Ansari- a neighborhood in the city of Aleppo. The White Helmet team, who were located close by, heard the sound of the bombs fall and quickly arrived at the scene. Khaled kept an eye on the sky, as a second bomb is often dropped to kill rescue workers. After pulling out people, including entire families, from the debris it seemed like everyone was accounted for. Suddenly one of the mothers cried out desperately that her 2-week-old baby was missing. By 3:30 p.m., some nine hours after the bombing, when Khaled rested his head against the concrete, he was startled to hear the cries of baby Mahmud. Jolting into action, Khaled and the entire team spent the next 13 hours carefully digging through the rubble. In order to keep the baby safe, they had to be as gentle and patient as possible and prevent a further collapse. On finally spotting the head, they used car jacks, the only tool at their disposal at the time, to lift the concrete slab and pull baby Mahmud out.
Civilians have paid the biggest price in this conflict but exceptional people like Khaled, who is one of thousands of volunteers, selflessly risk their lives every day. Amid the darkness, these group of volunteers provides some hope- sometimes even paying the ultimate price. It's often true that when the worst of humanity manifests itself, so does the very best. For families living on the front lines, the sight of those white plastic helmets restores their hope and faith in the spirit of humanity.