Most important New Year’s Resolutions

On January 1, world leaders embarked on the most ambitious and important set of New Years’ resolutions ever made. The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to eradicate poverty and injustice and reduce the effects of climate change.

The Syrian refugee crisis is one of the largest humanitarian emergencies of our time, and there has never been a more urgent call to action.

The goals may seem far removed from our everyday lives, but for people like Ibrahim and Isa, eradicating injustice and poverty is vital. We recently spoke to the couple as they made their way through Serbia from Syria, in hopes of a better life for their daughter, eight-month-old Lubab.

Sitting at the foot of their tent, Isa holds baby Lubab as Ibrahim recalls life as it was before the Syrian conflict began.

“We used to have a car rental business in Al-Raqqah. Life was good. We dreamt of having a big family and sending our children to university, but the war came and they took the cars, they took everything. I wanted to fight back, but they threatened my wife.”

Fearful as they watched the situation in Syria grow worse day by day, the family made the difficult decision to flee. Seeking refuge in Lebanon, Ibrahim, Isa and Lubab found themselves living in a garage with another family. Although their situation was far from ideal, they still considered themselves lucky to have shelter. They saw many refugee families stuck outside in the cold.

There was very little work available in Lebanon, and Ibrahim took whatever was offered to him. “I couldn’t find any work. I did some labouring but I was never paid” he says grimly. The family were unable to pay their rent and were finally forced to leave the garage.

With no food, water or shelter, Ibrahim and Isa decided they must act quickly before Lubab became ill or part of a lost generation of Syrian children who have never known anything but war.

The family made it to Turkey where they boarded a boat to Greece. Isa was terrified for her family as they could not swim well.

“It was the middle of the night. The boat was 20 feet long and there were 45 people on-board; 17 of them were children. Yes, it was dangerous but we had no choice. If we stayed in Syria, we would have been killed. In Lebanon, we would have starved.”

During the journey the waves became choppy and the captain panicked. “I was sure he would kill us all, so I took over.” Ibrahim remembers solemnly. “I couldn’t believe it when we made it to shore.”

Once the family arrived in Greece, they walked through Macedonia, eventually arriving in Serbia.

“We are tired and cold but it is better than being dead in Syria,” Ibrahim explains, “I don’t know what will happen in 2016. We are just trying to survive. We just want our daughter to live in peace, I feel greatful that she won’t remember what we have experienced.”

Ibrahim adds, “I want to work so I can make sure my daughter has everything she needs. I want her to have a better life than us. Isn’t that what every father wants?”

Ibrahim, Isa, and Lubab’s challenges are unfortunately not unusual. Their story is sadly similar to millions of other Syrians over the past half decade, and in the past year many children have made journeys similar to Ibrahim and Isa’s on their own.

This year, we must remind ourselves of why the new Sustainable Development Goals were set in the first place – to improve and save the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children. The SDGs are not just the responsibility of governments and aid agencies – individuals can and should make a difference too. Buy fair-trade, welcome and help resettle refugees in your community, report violence against children, donate to reputable charities, and monitor your own government’s progress on the SDGs; after all, these goals are universal.

Why don’t you forgo the ordinary and make a resolution that might just save the world this year? Tell us how you plan to make a difference on Twitter @WorldVision #globalgoals #nyresolution

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