Rethink Rebuild

Our student blog this week comes from Kayley in our Lower Sixth Form who is sharing her thoughts on the current Syria crisis, spurred on by a very special visitor and speaker who we are grateful to for presenting to the whole of  our Year 12 during their recent Enrichment session.

On Tuesday the 10th of April Dr Haytham Alhamwi visited AKS Sixth Form during our enrichment lesson to tell us about his experiences as a Syrian Refugee.  The presentation astounded our year group as we listened to his hard-hitting stories and first hand experiences of the war in Syria.

Here in the UK we are praised and rewarded for service within the community.  However simple acts of kindness such as building a community library, cleaning the streets from litter, and encouraging healthy lifestyles left Haytham and other members of his community a target for the Assad regime. Showing strength and empowerment is seen as a rebellious act.  For him, this led to torture and imprisonment for 2 and a half years – including 7 months in solitary confinement with no light for the first 2 months, as well as living in an unclean room with unhygienic food, water and bedding.

Haytham’s family and children were not allowed to visit the prison until after 10 months, where they were restricted on time and kept behind multiple bars.

This is a common practise for the Syrian citizens that show strength through positive actions within their community and are against the corruption of the government. Many people, including some of Haytham’s family, have been kidnapped from their homes to be held, tortured and murdered in secret locations where families are not told of their whereabouts until years later, if at all. Many members of the community are missing.

In addition to this, children’s hospitals, schools, office blocks and houses in towns have all been targeted with missiles from the Assad regime government – who are responsible for over 90% of the 500,000 deaths in Syria since the start of the war.

Dr Haytham Alhamwi and other members of his family have now fled Syria as political refugees after their town was bombed and completely abandoned.  Now a UK citizen and living in Manchester, Dr Haytham Alhamwi carried out a PhD in Occupational Health at the University of Manchester and has set up the Rethink Rebuild Society; a charity based in Manchester that works alongside refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants to help improve their quality of life and integrate them into British society.

Hearing and watching his presentation was truly inspirational and gave us all a new insight into the situation in Syria. We are determined to help by raising awareness of the crisis in Syria, supporting the Rethink Rebuild Society, and welcoming refugees and immigrants into our country and local community. Overall, Dr Haytham Alhamwi’s presentation was extremely humbling and made us particularly grateful to live in such a safe and secure part of the world. We really appreciated his time speaking to us as well as his commitment and passion towards making a positive change for the Syrian people.

Kayley (Year 12)