For one reason or another I have spent quite a lot of time in Syria. I was not initially that interested in it, but just by getting to know it better, I grew to love it and love the people there.
It particularly struck me how nice the children were. Nearly all of them that I ever met were cheerful, friendly, helpful (though sometimes quite mischievous) well loved and cared for, and seemed to have strong bonds with their friends and neighbours. They lived in their own little child world, playing in the streets around their home, wandering round with their friends, running errands, chatting to adults and not needing much adult care when they were out playing, because on the whole everybody, including older kids, adults and passers by, looked out for the small ones.
So when I look at this picture, taken in Homs a couple of years ago, with the balloon seller in the background, and the kids all busy with their slide and their games, I feel very sad because you can read about things in the papers, but they don't really make an impact until you relate it to something in real life. I don't want to depress anyone and I don't get involved in other peoples' politics, and I don't want to freak people out but I can't bear it to hear that government forces are now reported to be specifically targeting children. I hope that is not so.