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What would you do if you saw a freezing child?

Feb 21, 2014 11:55 AM
No matter how far away, shivering children need to be given warmth
No matter how far away, shivering children need to be given warmth

Using a hidden camera, our colleagues in Norway filmed what happened when a shivering child was left alone at a bus stop in Oslo. The resulting video has warmed the hearts of over 13 million people who have watched it online. The viral video draws our attention to the millions of Syrian children who are facing a harsh winter without warm clothes or safe shelter.

Imagine that on your way to work today, you passed by a child who was shivering from the winter wind and snow. What would you do? 

For several hours on two freezing days in Oslo, 11-year-old Johannes sat at a bus stop in a thin t-shirt and jeans. He was visibly shivering from the cold. When passers-by noticed he was alone and freezing, he explained that his coat had been stolen and he was waiting for his teacher. What followed were moving acts of kindness. 

Johannes is an actor, but all of the passers-by were oblivious to the staged scenario. The coats and scarves they shared with Johannes were given out of care and concern for a vulnerable child. The kindness that they showed him was genuine.

Join over 13 million others, and watch the video here

Each interaction between Johannes and a passing stranger was caught on camera by SOS Children's Villages in Norway. They had hidden a camera close to the bus stop, and waited to see how Norwegians would respond. Overwhelmingly, they helped when they saw a child in need. Of the 25 people who shared the bus stop with Johannes, only three didn't help in some way.

The video quickly went viral, and has now been seen by over 13 million viewers! You can watch the video below. If you would like English captions, you can turn them on by using the icon in the bottom-right corner of the video. 


Johannes, whose parents sponsor a child with SOS Children, said he received over 10 coats from the passers-by. He says, "There were so many nice people. We filmed for two days, and I thought maybe three or four of them would give me his jacket. But there were many more who did it."  

It's hard not to be emotionally hit by the video. Instinctively, we offer help however we can when a suffering child is right in front of us.

What would you do if the child was far away?

Synne Rønning, from SOS Norway helped to create the video. She says, "The campaign has worked as an eye opener - people who watch it ask themselves: What would I do? The goal was to touch upon the fear of becoming numb to crises that don't affect you directly"

Latest UNICEF figures estimate that 5 million children have been affected by the conflict in Syria. Millions of families have had to flee from their homes, leaving behind their possessions. Many have moved into temporary shelters and damaged buildings, with little protection from the freezing winter weather. Today, Syrian children are shivering just as Johannes does in the video.

The situation is the same. A child is in need, and protection can be given by a passing stranger. Will you reach out to a Syrian child and offer them a coat, a scarf, a blanket? You can do this by donating to our emergency appeal, so that SOS staff in Syria can keep more children warm.

Winterisation Syria

SOS Children hands out winter kits

As snow covers the ground in Syria, SOS Children has been busy handing out more than 500 winter kits to families in Damascus and surrounding rural areas. Each kit includes three warm blankets, winter coats and a scarf, hat or gloves for children. SOS workers in Syria hope to distribute thousands more of these items to displaced families in the Aleppo, Daraa and coastal regions. We hope to keep warm and provide extra protection to 20,000 families as the Syrian winter endures.

Johannes reminds us that we care about vulnerable children. He reminds us that we want to help, and that a simple act can bring warmth, comfort and hope.

You can keep warm a Syrian child by donating to our Syria emergency appeal. Proceeds will support our winter campaign. Each donation stops a child shivering. Each donation is an act of kindness that transforms a child's life.

Donate regularly to our work in Syria

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Becoming an SOS child sponsor online is easy and makes a real difference to the life of a child in need.