Northern England — As the civil war in Syria rages on, the White Helmets — an all-volunteer rescue organization — have defied death to rush headfirst toward airstrikes. They served as a beacon to the trapped and desperately wounded that the only help around was on its way, often the deciding factor between life and death.
Among them was Ahmed, whose identity CBS News obscured to protect his family. He said he doesn’t know how many people he has rescued over the years, but estimates he’s helped more than 40.
He was once a farmer before the war came. He trained with the White Helmets to drive ambulances and fight fires. But to the Syrian regime, he and his colleagues were seen as the enemy. When Syrian forces began to win the war, retaking territory, Ahmed and his co-workers found themselves cornered.
A coalition of countries, including Israel and the U.S., came up with a plan to get them out. Last July, 422 White Helmets and their families were smuggled out to neighboring countries.
Now they’ve found asylum a world away from the war zone. Places like Canada, Germany, France, and Britain, where adjusting to a new climate means more than just the weather. It’s not easy to forget the eight years of shelling, destruction and war, Ahmed told CBS News. As he well knows, saving one life does not change the world, but for that one life, the world will change forever.