The White Helmets (2016)

There is a group in Syria that functions as the immediate responders when an attack happens within a community. They are essentially superheroes who leaps away to help a civilian in the most immediate time possible, going through enormous amounts of rubbles to reach their destination – breathing through airs filled with ash and smoke. They are called the White Helmets, presumably because white helmets are a part of their safety get-up, but we can assume that in a place of war and hatred, they represent the purity and peace symbolized by the color.

We can also say the White Helmets represent the protective aid of the people; the protective gear when all else failed.

When filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel documented a sub-division of the group in his documentary The White Helmets, we only get to see one or two sequences of their regular missions.

The first mission feels surreal. An air bomb was thrown to a building filled with innocent civilians, the commonplace of the target of the enemy. Before the attack, the team members were in a circle, eating hummus during a break, their first response when they hear a hissing sound on what might be something from the sky is an immediate ready to find out where it might land.

Watching the whole rescue is heartbreaking, as hope becomes entirely reliant on pure empathy and love by this group of people who dared to cross the dangers. No one wins in this type of attack, neither the attacker nor the many victims. Not even the White Helmets, who have to sacrifice a part of them to rise to these instances.

But The White Helmets documentary is not about a team’s rescue, but about the journey to be better in their rescues, to be better heroes. A large chunk of it deals with their rescue training program in Turkey, learning through the proper ways of safety aids. While a day away from home is already a big loss for them, to miss a chance of possible rescues, we know that the future will eventually be better.

No one knows when the wars will end, but if our love and compassion to one another continue to prevail, as demonstrated by our heroes, we will get through this sooner than we realized.

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