A valiant moment for photographer and activist Abd Alkader Habak, a man usually seen behind the lens, when he decided to take action instead of taking pictures to save a boy’s life after a bomb exploded in rebel-held territory in Syria on Saturday that killed 126 people, 68 of which were children.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the majority of the victims were evacuees from war-torn villages.
As negotiations came to a halt, the convoy of buses containing mostly pro-government evacuees remained parked in the rebel-controlled Aleppo city.
Children being children, out of boredom, they left the buses to play out in the sun. Coming from villages that are deprived of food, they were easily enticed by a man in a car with a bag of potato chips, said a wounded girl in her hospital bed who lost four siblings from the blast.
She said that the moment that many had gathered, there was an explosion.
Photographer Habak was there working and was instantly knocked out by the powerful deafening blast.
When he came back to his senses, he began trying to help the wounded.
“The scene was horrible — especially seeing children wailing and dying in front of you,” Habak said to CNN. “So I decided along with my colleagues that we’d put our cameras aside and start rescuing injured people.”
The first child he checked on was already dead.
He found another child lying on the ground, and people shouted at him to stay away because he’s already dead. But Habak could see the boy was still faintly breathing so he picked the boy up and immediately ran towards safety.
“This child was firmly holding my hand and looking at me,” he said.
He then took the child to an ambulance, however he didn’t know if the boy survived. He then fearlessly rushed back to the scene to see if he could save others until he came across another lifeless child on the ground.
Overwhelmed by the horrific scenarios, he collapsed.
“I was overcome with emotion,” he told CNN. “What I and my colleagues witnessed is indescribable.”
The photograph showing Habak dashing while carrying a boy and a camera on the other hand were taken by another photographer, Muhammad Alrageb.
Alrageb said he also helped at the start, but then decided to take photos. “I wanted to film everything to make sure there was accountability,” he said. “I feel proud that there was a young journalist there helping save lives,” he added.
People should be thankful for the photographers and journalists there, on the frontlines, unarmed, but carries with them their powerful camera, and their humanity.
It is not their job anymore, and not really trained for that, but Habak did it anyway, not thinking of a possible secondary blast, and not thinking of the scars it may leave him forever.
Writing or reading this story already hurts; what more for the people who witnessed it. Imagine not only of the scene, but also the wailing of the children, the sound of suffering, the physical pain; for they themselves were knocked out by the blast.
May we also thank those who were not captured on camera, unsung heroes, still out there, doing what must be done, doing what is right.