Biz that Gives
Beyond duty: CNN journalist champions war-stricken children
- Arwa Damon is a CNN reporter based in the Middle East and North Africa.
- She covers most humanitarian stories in these conflict zones.
- Her journalistic work paved the way for her to create INARA, a nonprofit that provides care for children affected by war.
CNN journalist Arwa Damon takes her job to a different, more purposeful level. She began a journey that goes beyond what is expected of her.
As a senior international correspondent based in the Middle East and North Africa, Arwa has personally witnessed the best and worst of humanity. There were stories of war and conflict, of famine and hunger, of sickness and poverty — you name it.
These sad realities in the lives of many people she dealt with compelled her to do something about it. She knew that reporting news especially from conflict zones is not where her job ends. For Arwa, there has to be something more, something greater that should come out of this.
Her eye-opening experience led her to create her own charity, the International Network for Aid, Relief, and Assistance (INARA).
According to its website, INARA is a nonprofit organization that provides life-altering medical care for children from conflict areas, who have catastrophic injuries or illnesses and are unable to access treatment due to war.
INARA sprung out from an experience Arwa had back in 2007, when she encountered Youssif, a young boy who has been “horribly burnt to the point where his face had become a hardened mask of scar and tissue.”
Her coverage on Youssif’s story inspired people from all over the world to help him.
“It’s my favorite memory ever,” Arwa said. “It was insane. People from all over the world were emailing and calling, and everybody wanted to help this kid.”
When Youssif and his family gained asylum in the US and were able to get medical care, it was at that moment she knew she needed to do more.
The Syrian war that broke out years later prompted the birth of INARA.
“It’s gutting. It literally feels as if someone is trying to rip your insides out,” Arwa said.
Arwa shared how Syrian kids needed so much help because of the ongoing war, and her nonprofit has doubled its efforts to cater to as many children as possible.
Since its launch in 2015, INARA has raised almost $4 million, assisting over 408 cases of injured children, just like Youssif.
To date, Arwa never ceases to become the voice of these war victims as she continuously spreads awareness and compels more people to extend a helping hand.
“I wish we lived in a kinder world, where being a ‘humanitarian’ was not a thing that was applauded, but rather the norm. I fundamentally believe that we can do better by each other, but for some reason, it’s something we have to fight for. It’s what I fight for,” she said.