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Utah moms offer support to Syrian moms through social media

OREM – A network of Utah moms who follow the Syrian crisis on social media, decided to use their networks to empower change. The moms team up with an organization, called WALY, short for “We are Like You.” Together they reach out to families impacted by war.

The people involved with this organization are half a world away from the warzone, and can’t directly provide aide. Instead they can offer support through text messages, video chats and even simple emojis.

“These are real people that need someone to cheer them up, need someone to laugh at their joke, need someone to understand them and take pressure off of them,” said Adam Paul Steed the founder of WALY.org.

Moms reach out to WALY to find a connection. Social workers in refugee camps find an interested family and pair them together.

“You write back and forth, and you have a translator in there with you,” WALY volunteer Laura Cole explains.

Several hundred Utah women engage in conversations with one or two Syrian families weekly or daily. They decide when they talk and what they talk about.

Cole says what amazes her about the connection is how her Syrian connection worries about the same things she does.

“I’ll ask how they are and if they’re okay, and let them know I’m praying for them,” said Cole.

She primarily talks to a Syrian refugee named Malick, who now lives in Turkey. Malick lost her home in a bomb blast, the trauma from the incident resulted in multiple surgeries that left her scared. Malick’s husband died, leaving her with three young children to raise. The founder of WALY.org say the conversations between American moms and Syrian moms usually start slow, but both sides eventually connect over topics like family, school, health and faith.

“I ask after her kids. I asked after her brother, because he’s missing. They don’t know if he’s alive. I’ll ask hoping there’s good news and so far not,” said Cole.

Zsuzsa Nago, a humanitarian relief worker helping Syrian refugees in Turkey, says there is a tone of despiration and dispair in the refugee camps.

“Initially they didn’t want to stay here, they thought it was a temporary things, when the war stops they wanted to return. Now they say they will stay here for a long time.”

Nago says that feeling of hopelessness will take time to repair, but it can be addressed with little interactions and conversations.

“I cannot solve the war in Syria, I really can’t do anything to help. I can do one thing,” said Cole about her online chats.

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