The smiles on the faces of these Syrian children come via York courtesy of a certain Stonegate cyclist.
Purpleman couldn’t go into war-torn Syria himself – so he sent in the costume and messages of love from York to a school in the city of Idlib in the north-west of the country.
The outfit was smuggled across the border from Turkey by a Syrian man – taking quite a personal risk.
“It’s impossible for me to enter Syria but the costume could,” Purpleman told YorkMix.
“With the conflict just nearby their school they were able to focus on joy and happiness for a few moments. It’s incredible that, despite everything, love still dwells in people’s hearts.”
Joy and happiness
The costume was worn one of the students, Muhamad. And messages in English were also relayed to the children, including ‘Love 5 War 0 – Syrian children love you’.
“We called this mission ‘Love is stronger than hate’,” Purpleman said.
“The message was specifically relayed from York to inside Syria, carried by word of mouth and WhatsApp, all the way across the border into war-torn Syria where the children and teachers wrote it down.
“We reached these children, in schools surrounded by war and negativity, giving them the opportunity to remind themselves what joy and happiness is – the essence of childhood.”
He said the mission in December brought to an end a busy year “with positive purple missions carried out in Manchester. London (Grenfell Tower and at the scene of the two terror attacks) Barcelona, Portugal, Japan and China”.
Unlike previous Purpleman missions, no toys or flowers were taken in to Syria – because of the dangers. But plans are being made for a sixth and final trip.