It's easy to feel helpless as the civil war in Syria rages. But after this past week's violent events, Laura Jennings decided something needed to be done about it.
"I didn’t find anybody who was doing something, and I said, ‘Well, what can I do?’" Jennings, a department director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, says. She noticed that many of the social media messages sent by civilians and journalists in the besieged areas say that they feel forgotten. So Jennings enlisted the help of friends and fellow activists Neveen Ayesh and Elena Porcelli late last week to create a message to reassure Syrians that they are not forgotten — and tonight that message will take form as a St. Louis Vigil for Syria.
"We want to make at least some notion that's saying, 'Hey, we're St. Louis, we're this city, but we're standing here remembering you tonight,'" Jennings says.
All are welcome to attend the vigil, which will take place at 7 p.m. in front of Saint Louis City Hall. It will include an opening message, a moment of silence and words from keynote speakers. Participants are also welcome to bring posters with messages of hope, LED candles and donations of winter wear for the homeless in St. Louis.
"I really work through the guise of 'care globally, act locally,'" Jennings says, noting that she hopes this act will send a message to City Hall about homelessness in St. Louis as well as the problems in Syria.
The event's purpose, then, is not to solve the complexities of war, nor is it a protest or political message — it's rather an attempt to connect on a human level: "What we want to do is raise awareness to say that we are looking onward to war happening, that we cannot ignore images of people dying."
Participants are asked to use the hashtag #STLhere4Aleppo, as well as #here4Aleppo and #Aleppo. The goal is that the vigil's message will reach civilians in Syria.
"If they can see that people aren't forgetting, and that people out here do care for them, I think that's a meaningful way to address something that we can do."
For more details about the St. Louis Vigil for Syria, visit the invite on Facebook