In times of war, there are war criminals and there are people (tens of thousands) who perish in war crimes. There are unsung heroes, faceless warriors who keep communities going, and whose stories – when you hear about them from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend – make your hair stand on end.
And then there are the ones that we do hear about, for one reason or another, and they give a face to all the heroism those subjected to war must resort to day in and day out.
1. These rappers
These three boys, Samir, Abdulrahman and Mohamed, are not only using music as a mode of expression, but are also using it as an opportunity to spread awareness on the importance of education in allowing them to pursue a career in that field.
The talented brothers arrived in Lebanon are refugees in 2012.
The rap video, called "Straight Outta Syria" was produced by Silverfish Productions commissioned by Theirworld. The short film was made as a call-to-action to the international community to ensure Syrian refugee children have an education.
2. Yusra Mardini
Yusra represented Syria at the FINA World Swimming Championships back in 2012. As a swimmer and a refugee, she made use of her exceptional swimming skills when stranded off the Turkish coast. She pushed an overcrowded boat carrying hundreds to Greece, saving their lives.
“There were people who didn’t know how to swim,” Yusra said . “It would have been shameful if the people on our boat had drowned. I wasn’t going to sit there and complain that I would drown.”
She ultimately made it to Rio 2016, where she competed and won her heat in the 100-meter butterfly race on Aug. 6.
3. Asem Hasna
Asem Hasna, a University of Damascus student-turned-paramedic, joined the “revolution by saving lives, rather than taking them” in 2012. In the process, he lost his left leg. That’s when he turned to technology, learned how to program a microchip and 3D printed prosthetic limbs.
4. The duo who designed an app to navigate German migration bureaucracy
Munzer Khattab and Ghaith Zamrik, two Syrian refugees who made it to Berlin, struggled through numerous paperwork both were instructed to fill in.
The duo took that gruelling process and turned it into something that would help the 1.2 million refugees in the country.
Bureaucrazy is still in the development phase. The group aims to launch by January 2017.
5. Alex Assali who opened a soup kitchen in Berlin
Assali fled Damascus years before the uprising-turned-war erupted in 2011. He made it out to Berlin where he decided to say "thank you" to the locals who took him in.
With his motto: "give something back to the German people" Assali opened a soup kitchen for the city's homeless outside of Berlin's Alexanderplatz station. His story was picked up by many mainstream news outlets including Al Jazeera and The Daily Mail, and he has receiving an outpouring of gratitude from locals. Here's to hoping initiatives like this build bridges between host communities and refugees, and combating stigma against the Syrian community in Europe.