When it comes to Lindsay Lohan, it seems there are no in-betweens. To some, she’s the young actress that stole our hearts and marked our childhoods through her roles in iconic movies like the Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls. To most, though, she’s just another person affected by the Disney Effect, a tragic case of the child star gone bad. The only thing the media has convinced us Lohan is good for is her struggles with sobriety or parole violations. She was written off as a messy party girl with no chance of getting better, and became the butt of jokes across the web.
But whether you love her or hate her, Lindsay Lohan has taken part of humanitarian efforts that must not go unnoticed.
In case you haven’t realized, although chances are you are you do, Syria is in the midst of a crisis. A faulty government, civil war, and a thriving terror organization has caused the displacement of eleven million people, both inside and out the region. Daily, we are bombarded with gruesome images on our TV screens depicted the disparity that comes with escaping a war zone. We’ve seen children, dirty and severely wounded, in the back of an ambulance due to airstrikes. We’ve seen a two-year-old boy lie face down on a beach, dead, while on the journey to freedom. With the simple Google search of “Syrian refugees,” you will see the crowded boats, the families trekking through ruins in search of an escape route, and the anguish that looms in each set of eyes you come across.
In order to combat this, Lohan spent two weeks in Turkey, not for a vacation, but for self education. While there, as documented by a series of Instagram posts, she traveled between multiple cities to meet with government officials and, most importantly, Syrian refugees who have fled from the chaos that continues to roar in their home country.
“I’m not a politician; I can’t speak on anything unless I experience it myself.”
— Lindsay Lohan
One of Lohan’s more prominent encounters with refugees was that of the Husseins, a family who had fled Aleppo and live under the care of the Sultanbeyli Municipality. Accompanied by Abdurrahim Boynukalin, Turkey’s Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, she sat with the family on two occasions to hear the story of their escape from the war zone.
“Meet the Hussein Family. The father, Mohammad, was injured severely in Aleppo and his wife left him and her three kids after they migrated to Turkey. The lovely girl is Heya (9) and her twin brother is Leys. The Sultanbeyli Municipality is covering their rent and kitchen expenses but the conditions of the house with us because although he is 17, he had to work in order to take better care of his family. #theworldisbiggerthan5”
— Lindsay Lohan (@lindsaylohan), via Instagram.
Her efforts did not stop here, though. Using the hashtag #theworldisbiggerthan5, Lohan called attention to revising the U.N. policy that gives the largest deal of decision-making power to the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia. She also visited a refugee camp in the Nizip district of Gaziantep. Here she showered children with gifts, viewed artwork by Syrian refugees, shadowed medical professionals conducting pediatric check-ups, and even changed into doctors’ garb to contribute to the childcare herself. In a touching photo taken afterwards, where she beamed at the camera while posing with an aid worker, she wore a traditional headscarf (hijab). A perfect example of cultural appreciation, Lohan donned the colorful scarf, gifted to her by an aid worker at the refugee camp, in thanks of the “generosity and love [she] received from everyone at the camp.”
One of the most important concepts Lindsay Lohan exhibited during her time in Turkey was the cruciality of listening. As Americans living in a post-9/11 world, and being bombarded by the intensity of today’s political climate, it’s easy to fall prey to fear mongering and xenophobia. It’s easy to connote foreigners and refugees with Daesh and terrorism when those are the only depictions from the region we are exposed to. It is easy to turn our noses to the struggles of Syrians, but by forming these prejudices and being volunteers to ignorance, we are allowing the problem to continue and multiply in size. Rather than falling victim to the media’s demonization we need to do actual research and base our opinion on fact, not Western propaganda. Ignoring the disintegration of the former Republic is just as violent as the bombs bursting in air.
There is some hope that these people will find new homes in farther lands; Turkey has accepted more than half of the over four point eight million Syrians displaced out of the Levant and has contributed nine billion dollars in humanitarian aid. More refugees are spread amongst Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq. In 2015, Germany pledged to take in eight hundred thousand Syrians. However, this is only a start, and millions are still caught in turmoil. There is more that we can do, and start is keeping in touch with those being immediately affected by this crisis. By doing this, we can show the humanity of refugees, and show the world (America included) that they are more than just dead weight, numbers, or bomb-wielding terrorists out to take our freedom.
No matter how much of a mogul you consider Lindsay Lohan, she used her stardom and platform to not only speak about a very important social issue, but to give a voice to those often rendered voiceless. We simple folk might not have as many people watching our every tap of a keyboard, we too can use our platforms to signal boost the Syrian Refugee Crisis and search for it’s conclusion. If we can do nothing else, it’s imperative we offer support to those in need, listen to their experiences, and raise awareness so justice can be given to Syrians, once and for all.