Australia has committed to resettling thousands of refugees from Syria. For some Australians, Syria is so distant it could exist in another universe, and the TV news tends to portray it as a dark, urban wasteland, populated only by villains and victims.
But despite the enormous destruction and suffering caused by six years of war, multi-faith Syria survives, and there is great courage and humanity to be found there.
To help Australians get to know the country Syrian refugees come from, the magazine 'Beloved Syria – Considering Syrian Perspectives' aims to provide a platform for the voices of Syrians, emphasizing the country’s long history, its rich and complex culture, as well as the multi-faith nature of Syria. Its literature, music, art, and cuisine are both distinctive and the product of many centuries of interaction with other peoples.
Image: Syrian sculptor Mustafa Ali who will feature in this issue of Beloved Syria.
It is hoped 'Beloved Syria' can be a meeting place for Syrians in Australia, as what unites them is a love for their country.
Image: Fadi and Zeina Haddad who will feature in Beloved Syria.
(Ref: SBS news report, 26 March 2017 - New magazine remembers a 'Beloved Syria' )
In regard to the current conflict, the magazine aims to avoid contentious issues as much as possible.
We hope the magazine will inspire Australians to welcome Syrian refugees with open hearts but also inspire them to research Syria for themselves. The two oldest continuously inhabited cities are in Syria, so humanity has deep roots there. There is much to discover.
Image: La Trobe University students on a tour of Syria visit a Syrian family, December 2008
Beloved Syria is an ambitious project. We are all volunteers and all women, so we are particularly interested in the plight of women in Syria. Except for editor Norma Medawar and her nieces, we are non-Syrians, so we are learning about Syria as we work on this edition of the magazine.
The magazine aims to –
- Present Syria and its people with respect and integrity
- Promote peace and reconciliation in Syria
- Contribute toward the rebuilding of Syria
- Assist in the successful settlement of Syrian refugees into Australian communities.
Beloved Syria is a not-for-profit magazine. The first edition was funded entirely by the two editors. We believe this magazine fulfills a great need, and we wish to distribute it as widely as possible, for example to schools and community groups in Melbourne, as well as to individuals. Hence, the magazine will be free. If you would like information about how to get a copy of the magazine please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would welcome any assistance you can give, with financial support including sponsorship being the most pressing need at this time.
Endorsements / Recommendations
'There is a great danger when presented daily with the tragic, incomprehensible events in Syria - the appalling destruction thrust upon the Syrian people and their culture - that we become anaesthetised to the suffering. This timely magazine reminds us all that Syria and her people are not just the crumpled buildings and desolation we see nightly on television, but an ancient culture demanding our respect and support through a very dark moment in its history. '
Bryan Dawe, Australian writer, comedian and political satirist, but is also known for his work as a songwriter, photographer and social activist, Melbourne
‘This beautifully presented magazine exudes a sense of calm that’s so welcome. To hear Syrians' own voices is a balm, bringing back their generosity, vivacity, and focus on humanity ahead of all other things. Their voices are a timely reminder that these conflicts grossly insult and demean us all.’
Dr Fiona Hill, businesswoman, anthropologist, Arabic speaker, writer and educator, Melbourne
Image: Students at British Council in Damascus, 2005.
Who We Are
Image: Syrian editor of Beloved Syria, Norma Medawar.
(Ref: ABC, 24 October 2016, Beloved Syria: Refugee starts magazine to help Australians better understand Syria)
The editors: Norma Medawar called Syria home until she migrated to Australia recently on a humanitarian visa, and Susan Dirgham lived in Damascus for two years and taught English at the British Council.
For the second edition, the editorial team also includes:
How The Funds Will Be Used
We are trying to raise $10,000 which will be used in the following ways:
$5,550 - Printing incl. GST
$2,000 - Graphic Design & Website Management
$850 - Contributors
$700 - Marketing
$500 - Pozible fee
$400 - Postage
There are lots of challenges for the Beloved Syria editorial team and supporters. Besides the practical ones related to funding and distribution, they include formidable ones around how to use the magazine. How can we…
- Build credibility around content that is an alternative to politicized mainstream Western media
- Create a sense of continuity from the past to the present for Syrians
- Bring together Syrians of all faiths and beliefs
- Influence the Australian community to welcome and support Syrian refugees
- Ensure the magazine is a voice for people in general, for humanity, not just for Syrian people and their friends. We wish it to reflect a love for life, landscape, human history, loving faith, art, traditions, cuisines and the strivings of people to maintain their humanity. We hope this translates to a wider world, and not limited to the Syrian experience.