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The latest on the Syria situation.

Art Teacher Connects Students With Kids Caught In Syrian War

Nelson's students

Since 2016, Marc Nelson has used his artwork to draw attention to the people, often children, affected by the Syrian civil war. He's connected his students with children there through artwork and messages sent via social media, namely Twitter.

Earlier on, he and other advocates were using the hashtag #ArtForAllepo. Today, it's Ghoutathat is especially under attack. And Nelson and his students haven't forgotten about the crisis in the war-torn country.

Nelson says recently his students at Central Junior High School in Kewanee witnessed, from across the world, a "real time catastrophe."

"Two sisters that we have been communicating with, Noor and Alaa, their house was destroyed. The younger girl who was about eight was wounded in the head. She seems to be okay, but now they have no home." Nelson says the interactions between his students, the two girls and other Syrians are about teaching empathy. "I want to show them that it's not difficult to do something kind and to reach out."

Nelson says he also wants Syrians to know there are still people in the U.S. and other countries bearing witness. "I want them to know we will be there. We'll continue to advocate for their human rights." Listen to a recent interview with Nelson, here:

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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