In photos: Syria's children suffer amid war
It is March 2011 and a group of school children scrawl some anti-government graffiti on a wall in their small Syrian border town.
They are arrested.
People protest and more than 20 of them are gunned down where they stand by Syrian security forces.
This sparks more protests and before long a full-scale civil war is well on its way to claiming more than 100,000 lives in the next three years.
Those graffiti kids who helped inspire a nation are now in danger of becoming part of a lost generation, doomed by the civil war in their country to a life of despair, diminished opportunities and broken futures.
The United Nations (UN) and its humanitarian partners last week appealed to the world for US$1 billion to prevent this crisis and help the four million Syrian children.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said at the unveiling of the “No Lost Generation" initiative the future of these children is slipping away.
"But there is still a chance to save them."
"The world must answer this crisis with immediate, massive international support."
In excess of one million Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq are children and more than 425,000 of them under the age of five.
Nearly 8,000 of these children have been identified as separated from their immediate families.
Although lost, they have at least escaped the fate of the 11,420 children aged 17 years and younger that the independent Oxford Research Group estimates have been killed in the Syrian conflict.
Included in that figure is 764 cases of summary execution and 389 cases of sniper fire with clear evidence of children being specifically targeted, the group said.
For who survived and continue to endure the war there is faint hope.
In nine days time the first direct talks between the opposition and President Bashar al-Assad's government - set for January 22 in Switzerland and dubbed "Geneva 2" - although Western backers have struggled to unify rebel groups.
The "Friends of Syria", an alliance of mainly Western and Gulf Arab countries who oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, urged opposition groups to attend this month's peace talks, saying there was no other route to a political solution.
The main political opposition body in exile, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), has been plagued by internal bickering.
It postponed a decision on whether to attend until next week after nearly a quarter of its 121 members threatened to resign following after the re-election of its Saudi-backed leader, Ahmad al-Jarba.
As the political power players squabble, the one group who will continue to feel the backlash of this civil war are the children.