In Qibao, and old area of Shanghai, is a neighborhood(if you can call it that) of green lanes. Confronting realities wait there behind each door and in front of some where young women prepare to sell themselves for a living. As much as this practice is as old as civilization itself, it remains heartbreaking to witness people’s daughters going through this to survive. And most painful of all was seeing a little girl forced to grow up in that strange world of green lanes.
As the west prepares to launch a missile attack on Syria in the coming days, the innocent children find themselves caught in the games of warring adults having no say as to where their life will be taking them next. More than 4000 Syrians are seeking refuge daily in Lebanon, where they make a staggering 35% of the Lebanese population today. A ticking bomb in a fragile zone, heart breaking and unfair in so many ways. If the children are the hope for our future, why are we endangering that chance?
Children, no matter where they were born, under which circumstances, hold the whole promise of a better future. In them are the seeds of what has not yet happened and through them the codes of originality and possibility for human development. They are our greatest asset, let’s treat them with care.
displaced destinies (a child at a migrant school in Shanghai)
Today two good friends and I went for an adventure in a remote Shanghai neighborhood where mostly migrant workers from the provinces live and where their children go to special schools. These are the workers responsible for lifting Shanghai from the ground up to soaring levels with its new high rises and luxury hotels that mushroom at an impressive speed around the jewel of China. The residences are extremely modest and the children struggle to learn as best they can under their current circumstances. On this day the teacher said that they would be celebrating children’s day (normally on June 2nd in China) and strangely enough they pointed out a few of the girls who they consider ‘beautiful’ and explained why they were dressed in party clothes and not the usual school uniform. The declaration of their beauty was done openly in front of all the other students, a concept I found incredibly alien and difficult to understand. “She is the most beautiful girl in the class” the teacher announced loudly, ” and this is why she will be presented on stage today”.
hanging in the balance~ mother and child in Yangshuo
Of all the significant issues in the world, nothing strikes as more crucial than that of the future of our children. It is them who will inherit our planet in its current state, and it is they who will have to cope with the changes that are onsetting. How do we handle the very fine balance of preparing them without weighing them down, inspiring them without hiding the reality and training them when we ourselves are not sure what to do?