Bestselling author J.K. Rowling has brought a little light to a young Syrian girl’s week by sending her the Harry Potter series to read with her family, reports CNN.
Bana Alabed, a young girl living in rebel-held east Aleppo in Syria, tweeted this week about how much she was enjoying the first book by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and mused online about how her siblings were also interested in reading her copy.
The heartwarming story started after Bana’s mother, Fatemah, who runs the Twitter account, tweeted to J.K. Rowling about how she had watched the Harry Potter movies and shared that Bana wished to read the Harry Potter books by Rowling. Fatemah’s mother uses the account to document the family’s life in Syria and share her daughter Bana’s thoughts on the conflict in Syria as well.
After Rowling replied that Bana should read the Harry Potter series because she was sure to enjoy it, a member of the Rowling team reached out to figure out how they could get the books sent to the war-torn region. The team managed to get electronic copies of the Harry Potter series sent to the family in Syria. Fatemah tweeted out Bana’s thanks to Rowling along with a video.
It’s a warm gesture on the part of Rowling who has brought joy and magic to millions of children around the globe through her story of the young boy, Harry Potter, who discovers he is a wizard destined to save the magical and non-magical worlds. Receipt of the Harry Potter books is sure to bring some comfort to Bana and her family – the pinned tweet on Bana’s account is a picture of her reading to “forget the war” – but it is not enough to block out the raging conflict happening in their country.
For the civilians still in Syria, airstrikes and food shortages have become a matter of everyday life. Interspersed between touching photos of Bana and her siblings are devastating photos of the war and pleas from the family for the world to take action. Only a couple of hours after tweeting a photo of Bana and her siblings reading the newly arrived Harry Potter books from Rowling, a tweet was posted to Bana’s account showing the body of a friend of Bana’s who was killed by a bomb in Syria.
Since September, Bana and her mother have been sharing images and observations of their life in Syria with their over 100,000 Twitter followers. The tweets range from hopeful to reflective to despairing. As CBC News writes, “Her account gives a poignant human face to a nearly six-year conflict.”
Syria has been torn by a vicious civil war prompted by the Arab Spring in 2011. Rebels are pushing to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but the Syrian leader has strong allies in the form of Russia and Iran, while the rebels have the support of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and France among others. Simply put, the conflict in Syria is a rather dicey game of geopolitics that includes the involvement of non-state groups, among them terrorist organizations, who are eager to leverage the conflict for political gain.
The biggest victims in the ongoing conflict have been civilians. An estimate from earlier this year reported in the New York Times puts the death toll in Syria at over 400,000. And the influx of migrants fleeing the war to find safe havens elsewhere has led to a refugee crisis the likes of which Europe has never experienced, sparking both compassion and anti-migrant sentiments across the continent.
As for Bana’s family, they are still in Syria and are trying their best to enjoy the gift from Rowling. The family has been reading the books in bits and pieces because the bombardments have been distracting.
“It’s too early to choose a favorite character,” Fatemah told CNN. “Especially today, many bombs distracted her.”
[Featured Image by Joel Ryan/AP Images]