Lessons in Extraordinary Courage The White Helmets

How can we, in our own simple way, be a WHITE HELMET?

As I write this rather emotional Rambling, I must acknowledge that I feel very blessed with my life, and I want to continue to embrace it with fun, passion, and life experiences. I want to share with friends and, hopefully, a significant other, all the wonders of life’s blessings. However, there are two pieces of life’s puzzle that I have come to believe are critical: puzzelselfless giving and faith. Selfless giving is the puzzle piece that is at the core of this Rambling.

If we take a deep and hard look at what goes on around us we will find that the human spirit is amazing. I am willing to wager that the vast majority of those that read these Ramblings live in a world that is sheltered, insulated, and immune to the deep tragedies and struggles that permeate the world we live in. Here’s what I mean: We know our lives are reasonably good. We know we have varying levels of success. I ask myself and you, my readers, “Do we tend to take this for granted?” Perhaps others in our circle live in similar worlds and have similar blessings which we have learned to accept as the norm. (Not that we don’t feel lucky or fortunate, but it just seems the norm.)

We read about the starving children of Africa; we hear of the tragedy and struggles of the people in Haiti; we read of the unemployed, the homeless, and those who struggle with chemical dependency and say to ourselves, “That is so sad; that is too bad; how horrific that must be.” While we may have compassion, we also may have little true understanding as our own world is so detached from the reality of the outside world.

I can relate to this. As I sit at the cabin overlooking the lake, I sometimes catch myself worrying about “Bob stuff” I feel some uneasiness, stress, or uncertainty. All my issues are based on my world of relationships and life and have no relation to how blessed I really am.

What does it take to not only embrace our own blessed life, but also have the compassion, heart, and soul to be more selfless in doing our part? Maybe that 1% effort will be life changing, not just to ourselves, but more importantly, to someone we touch.

Let me share with you a story of an amazing group of citizens in Aleppo, Syria called “THE WHITE HELMETS” that illustrates this potential.

We’ve heard and read about the horrific bombing and destruction that continues in Aleppo, Syria and other towns and villages of that country. We have witnessed scenes of the destruction, but have we really felt and seen the horror of the innocent people who are the victims?

There is a group of organized citizens whose mission, out of compassion for their fellow man, is to track the falling bombs, wait for them to hit, and then, Doan their WHITE HELMETS and rush to the scene to rescue or retrieve those who are trapped, injured, or killed. In one documented event, after 16 -18 hours of grueling and non-stop efforts, the White Helmets were exhausted and ready to call it a day after finding no additional signs or sounds of life. As they were about to leave they heard the faint sound of a baby’s cry. They froze in place, in silence, with their helmet lights on to see if there really was life still buried somewhere in the unimaginable rubble. They quickly realized that it wasn’t their imagination, the baby’s cry was real. There was still a life waiting to be rescued.

With renewed hope, energy, and enthusiasm the White Helmets found a 6-week-old baby, unharmed, sheltered in a small cave of ruble and debris. A White Helmet pulled the crying child to safety, holding it tightly in his arms as if it were his own as tears rolled down hisWhitel Helmets check and the cheeks of his fellow rescuers. They embraced in the joy that their efforts had made a dramatic difference and that this child will now have a chance to grow up. Who knows what may be possible? Perhaps this child will one day be a peace maker for Syria? Who knows what impact that child will have on others? What we do know is that without the dedication of the White Helmets, those selfless citizens who risk their lives to save the lives of others, that child’s potential would never have a chance.

Over the course of three years, approximately 180 dedicated White Helmets have lost their lives working to rescue an estimated 58,000 fellow citizens.

The example of the White Helmets leads me to a few questions:

  • What are we doing as blessed individuals to act as White Helmets in our own communities and in the world?
  • What are we doing to make a real difference?
  • What are we doing to share our God-given talents, gifts, blessings, and compassion to those around us?

How can we, in our own simple way, be a WHITE HELMET?


One thought on “Lessons in Extraordinary Courage The White Helmets

  1. Bob–there are thousands of needs all over the world. Pick one and focus on it. Recognize that you, individually, can’t do them all.

    While there are some that want to run out and physically join in–we should recognize that is not the best use of our talents or resources. In my aviation business, I see a lot of people and organizations that do direct involvement when they could be doing better by organizing and donating. Here’s an example:

    A church in Illinois “adopted” an indian village in North Dakota. They paid for new housing–and even organized work crews to go build the housing. They eventually bought a 6 passenger twin-engine airplane to ferry work crews to and from North Dakota to build the houses–a considerable initial and operational expense. Eventually, the pilot (also the church minister) crashed the airplane when he lost control–he wasn’t instrument rated–killing all 6 aboard. The takeaway from this story:

    1. Why the need to physically travel to North Dakota in the first place? Why not provide the MEANS to build the houses, and let the locals build them? People have a much better appreciation for maintaining the houses when they have a stake in building them.
    2. Deaths aside–for the cost of the airplane and its operation, the church could have paid UNION LABOR RATES to do the project–and saved money as well.
    3. The houses for the indians would have been completed much cheaper and faster by letting people be good at what they are doing–the professional carpenters doing what they do best, and the church–the people that fund the project–do what THEY do best–raise money.

    Every one of us goes through this “how can I best help?” some time in our lives. From a practical matter, we are usually able to make the best contribution by doing what we do best. I’ve traveled to 83 countries around the world, and while I have often thought about direct involvement, I have come to the conclusion that my financial support means more ti the recipients than my actually being on site. A further complication for being “on site”–you are spending resources traveling to the site, and your housing and food take up resources that can best be used by those in need. Look at the damage in Haiti–the island resources were overwhelmed with foreign aid people–leave the work to the locals and professionals–just give them the tools to work with.

    Rather than being directly involved–do what you do best–raise money. Set aside how much you would like to donate–but be sure to check the record of the charity first. It’s tempting to actually go to the scene to help–but sometimes, the recipients are better served by making resources available to them.


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