What is the story of 10-year-old Bana al-Abed?

We often hear of cyber building and the misuse of social media. However, there are a few she use it to bring attention to things that matter.

Bana al-Abed, now 10, was only seven when started documenting the effects of war on Aleppo, Syria and posted them on Twitter. In no time, her Twitter posts went viral, making many people take notice of the devastation in Syria.

The Syrian Civil War

The Syrian Civil war started on March 15, 2011, with major unrest in Damascus and Aleppo, two of Syria’s important cities.

The multi-sided war is part of a wider wave of the Arab Spring in 2010. The war started, thousands of Syrians have been killed or displaced. Many have fled to other countries, living as refugees.

Taking to Twitter

Bana al-Abed was born on June 7, 2009 in Aleppo. Syria, her mother, Fatemah wad an English language teacher before the war, and her father, Ghassan, a lawyer.

Bana was only two when the war broke out in Syria. She grew up seeing destruction around her.

 She had to stop her schooling as her school was destroyed during the war. Her family, like so many others, had to struggle to find food and medicines. They lived in constant fear as bombs were dropped from the sky at random.

The international media was banned from entering the country, and there was no way for people to understand what the people of Aleppo were going through.

One day,, Bana and her mother decided to take to Twitter to share their experiences with the world. Fatemah opened Bana’s account on September 24, 2016 and the two began posting photos and videos of what was happening in Aleppo. Most of the tweets documented air strikes, hunger, destruction, displacement and death. Bana would also post pictures of herself and her routine. All the posts were in English, with help from her mother.

The world takes notice

Bana and her mother used trending hashtags and called out prominent leaders in their tweets. This led to the tweets reaching out to more people. As she started posting, the followers on her Twitter account increased and she received messages of solace from people from different parts of the world.

Her tweets had become so popular that writer J.K Rowling sent her an ebook of Harry Potter when she learnt that Bana couldn’t get her hands on it locally.

Later, Bana’s house was bombed but the family escaped.

In December the same year, during the 17th Aleppo Offensive (military offensive launched by the Syrian Armed Forces and allied groups against rebel-held districts in Aleppo) Bana’ account was taken down. This made people fear for her. However, he account was back two days later.

After the success of the Offensive, evacuation of rebels and civilians from Aleppo took place.

On December 19, 2016, Bana and her family were among 350 people who were evacuated to Turkey.

There, her family met the Turkish President, who in front of the international press, allowed Bana and her and her family to live in Turkey.

On May 12, 2017, Bana’s family was granted Turkish citizenship by the president.

Criticism, and a published author

While there were people who supported and encouraged Bana, there were a few who vocally criticized her account. Several people raised doubts about a seven-year-old Syrian girl speaking such good English, while others said that the account was started by her mother who used her as propaganda.

However, despite all this, Bana contains to tweet. In October 2017, Bana and her mother visited the New York City, in the U.S., meeting staffers at Twitter, visiting the United Nations headquarters, and publishing her book titled dear world: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace.

What makes her special?

Living in a war-torn country and facing criticism, Bana continued to tweet the experiences of the people of Aleppo so that the world would know what is happening and might take efforts towards peace.


Picture Credit : Google