Parenting

'Toy Smuggler' Risks Life to Bring Syrian Refugee Children a Little Love

 

So often in the news we read about the horrors that are happening to the innocent souls living in Syria. So much of the violence and destruction occurs while the eyes of  young children are watching. As a mother, every evening I lie with my baby in the safety of our home here in America and thank God that we were blessed to be born in our beloved country.

6-year-old Miral Khalagi is a Syrian refugee who lives in a camp in the city of Idlib. She had to endure watching her father being tortured and killed before her eyes as soldiers broke into her home. Her mother was taken and the girl has not seen her since. She was just 4 years old at the time of the violent event and now she does not speak and rarely smiled until a man began appearing at her refugee camp.

A man the refugees call “the toy smuggler” has been visiting the camp every couple of months. Rami Adham has traveled many times from Finland, where he lives with his wife and 6 children, to war-torn Syrian camps to deliver toys to suffering children. He walks miles through dangerous terrain, dodging bombs and sniper fire to get to the camp.

The Syrian native knew he had to help, telling NBC News, “I was very saddened by what was going on. As a Syrian I wanted, of course, to do my part in helping people, so I decided to go there myself.”

Adham says he was initially going to bring food and other supplies, but his daughter Yasmeen (3 at the time) had another idea. He explained how she wanted him to take her toys to the children. “She said, ‘I have toys, I can give you some,'” he explained. She backed that up by dragging baby dolls from her room.

Armed with $5,500 and a bag full of toys his 6 children had given him, Adham made his first journey to the camp five years ago and has been going ever since. Adham said when the children saw the toys “their eyes were big, everybody was smiling. Kids there have lost their childhood, and not for a year. This is the sixth year now and it seems like everybody forgot them.”

Adham’s efforts have now grown into a charity called the Finland Syria Community Association, which collects toys and donations for 420 sponsored orphans in Syria. Money helps in the effort, but he still insists it’s the toys that mean the most. “You know, I’ve given a kid $10 and they don’t really know what to do with it,” Adham said. “But give him a ball or a stuffed toy, he knows a thousand things to do with it. This is their mental therapy.”