Damascus: There aren’t too many children who can say US President Barack Obama read a letter they wrote to him. But six-year old New Yorker Alex can tell all his friends that Obama not only read his letter about a Syrian refugee, but also hailed it the spirit it embodied as exemplary.
Alex wrote to President Obama about Omran – a little Syrian boy who was photographed last month covered in dust and blood after an airstrike in Aleppo, the epicentre of the Syrian Civil War. The photograph quickly came to symbolize the confict that has ravaged Syria for more than half a decade, in much the same way that a photograph of a young boy – Aylan Kurdi – washed up on a Turkish beach became a symbol of the European refugee crisis in 2015.
Alex’s request was simple. He asked Obama if he could “please go get him (Omran) and bring him to our home.”
“We’ll give him a family and he will be our brother,” he pledged. He said he’d introduce Omran to Omar, one of his Syrian friends from school. “We can all play together. We can attend birthday parties, and he (Omran) will teach us another language,” he wrote.
Alex also promised that he and his sister Catherine would share their toys with Omran, and that he’d teach his new brother “addition and subtraction.”
President Obama lavished praise on Alex at the Leaders Summit on Refugees in New York. “The humanity that a young child can display, who hasn’t learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they’re from, or how they look, or how they pray. We can all learn from Alex,” he said.
You can watch Alex read out his letter to Barack Obama – as well as Obama’s response here.