With 11 days until Christmas, most celebrity Instagram feeds are filled with all kinds of photos sharing much holiday cheer, celebrity style. But for 28-year-old Victoria's Secret model Candice Swanepoel, her Instagram feed took a turn for the serious on Wednesday. "I feel ashamed seeing these devastating pictures while we are all preparing for Christmas," Swanepoel's caption read in part. Her words accompanied a sobering picture of Syrian "white helmets" rescuing injured children from Aleppo, Syria, amidst the destruction and chaos of the Syrian civil war. Swanepole's Instagram post showed that Syrian children are dying and there are ways we can help.
Swanepoel gave birth to her first child with fiancé Hermann Nicoli in early October. Even in the midst of navigating life with a newborn, of living an otherwise exceptionally comfortable life as model and celebrity — Swanepoel is one of the highest paid models in the fashion industry right now — the realities of the humanitarian crisis facing Syrian children have not been lost on Swanepoel, who felt moved enough to share the powerful image taken by a Reuters photographer on his Instagram — and to encourage others to act. In her post, she directed her Instagram followers to donate to Doctors Without Borders.
Swanepoel's Instagram caption read:
Why is this happening and no one can do anything about it...! I feel ashamed seeing these devastating pictures while we are all preparing for Christmas. Something needs to be done to stop this, And not just on social media in REAL life...because these are real lives of real children and families living in fear and desperation. #allepo [sic] We can try to help by donating to the Doctors who are there trying to save little lives. Doctors Without Borders. Link in my bio.
This particular photo shared by Swanepoel was taken in 2014 by Sultan Kitaz for Reuters. The photo shows members of the Syrian Civil Defense — known as the "White Helmets" by their signature gear — rescuing children from rubble in war-torn Aleppo. At the time, the Syrian Civil Defense announced that Aleppo was just days away from starvation. Tragically, one of those White Helmets — who rescued a 10-day-old baby — was killed in action this past August. 31-year-old Khaled Omar's dramatic rescue of the baby from a bombed-out house was captured on video and shared across social media.
The Syrian civil war began in 2011 when Syrian rebels began protesting President Bashar al-Assad's government, and the violence has continued unabated since then, plunging the region into a humanitarian crisis that has driven refugees to nearby Turkey, Greece, and other European countries. The global humanitarian Christian non-profit organization World Vision found that nearly 7 million Syrian children need humanitarian assistance, as either refugees fleeing the country, or as displaced residents within their own borders. Dr. Christine Latif, Turkey and northern Syria response manager for World Vision, lays out the grim realities for children caught up in the civil war, according to World Vision:
The children of Syria have experienced more hardship, devastation, and violence than any child should have to in a thousand lifetimes.
It's a compassionate gesture for a VS model to take the time to use her international social media platform to raise awareness for a humanitarian crisis that appears largely ignored by much of the world. Even from the relative comfort of our own lives free from such violence, it's important to be aware of what is happening in the world — and do our own part to help, no matter how small it might be. Here's where you can donate to the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets.