When faced with a hot issue in the world like guns and the recent school shooting, it is a good idea to look at the simple facts. What are guns? Why do we have them? How did it all begin?
The simple truth is that they are human fashioned killing machines. That is their sole purpose, a metal object designed to project at strong speed another metal object with the purpose of puncturing the body of another human or animal and to cause injury or death. That simple fact should halt all arguments about having them with children, near children or having them at all.
I listen the news about Syria and all the children that died in the least week to benefit a recent group of arms dealers who benefit each time there is conflict and who thrive from the misery of the less fortunate. They try to romanticize the issue and muddle it so we won’t comprehend, but it is very simple, isn’t it?
Power, greed, wealth and the personal need for self gratification without counting any cost.
There are now over 1.2 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon in camps waiting for a better home under the care of humanitarian organizations and NGOs. The children carry the hope and strength of their whole nation.
Reem is 9 years old. She is a Syrian refugee living in a camp in North Lebanon. I learned today that she lost both her parents in the recent conflicts. The only message written on her hand is : I love you
As beautiful as the old city of Kashgar is, it is also heartbreaking to visit. The charming old architecture is being demolished systematically by the authorities section by section for the last few years. The reason given: a possible danger from earthquakes the real reason, I leave for you to research. The locals are horrified as they are moved family by family outside the city and in place of their neighborhoods, malls, plazas, and fancy holiday housing is being planned and erected. Every year less and less of this historical city is left to admire and its traditions diluted slowly into the new characterless architecture. Yes, it is most definitely painful to see and to know about.
photo taken: a little family in front of a neighborhood condemned to be demolished in the old city of Kashgar
Another month of blogging comes to a close, the journey back to Congo, the beautiful children, the fantastic sense of hope and resilience, the bright faces, the humanity that I experienced in that war ridden part of Africa is over with this post. But it goes on in me, it never stops and it pulls be back always to revisit it, to never ever forget.
Thanks to all who followed, commented, encouraged, shared, critiqued and thought about Congo this past month. I hope that by more good people thinking and being aware of what goes on in that part of the world, more can somehow be done to change it. As they say, the first step in helping something is being aware of it.
Tomorrow I start a new month of a totally different nature. Stay tuned!
I have seen again and again that despite war circumstances, no matter how tough it gets, people try to retain a sense of normalcy in their day to day life. In Congo, everyone’s hair seems to be carefully colored, styled, braided and impressive looking. I loved seeing all the different hair dressers salons around town in Goma painted with colorful murals and boasting their professional services in every neighborhood. It is a sight I keep going back to when my mind wanders back to Congo.
Coming from Lebanon, I get asked a lot about the civil war that ravaged my country for so many years and with that question there is always a request to clarity what the war is all about there. On many occasions I find myself likening the war to a board game. The board being the land, the game pieces as the warring parties, and the ‘players’, well these are the giants and the warlords who have their big stakes in the game. The pieces get so sucked into the game that they forget who they are and sometimes even the reason they are in it, and the rule are changed often by the warlords and handed down to the players who follow blindly.
Congo is just another board game with so many bleeding players, young, old, male, female, tossed around mercilessly and discarded as the game keeps getting played.
It is difficult to imagine in our day of gadgets and the time of i-this and i-that available to everyone in the west even small children, that in some places like Congo, this is not the case at all.
And because of that, the children I met often asked me to take a message back with me from them to the world. They spoke mostly Swahili and through their translators they told me that they would like to draw these messages for me to photograph. So here, in the Cajed center for helping the children of the street, ‘les enfants de la rue’ in Kinshasa, the volunteer teacher allowed the children to take the time and draw some messages on the blackboard. And like the children that I met in Goma, these boys also dreamt of peace, of a world with no guns, of a colorful world that included them in it…
Then they went on to sing to me very playfully and very shyly their national anthem (video). After singing, they turned to me and requested that I sing my anthem to them, which I did, a bit more shyly than they did. I sang them the Lebanese anthem, because being with them brought me back to my childhood in Lebanon, or maybe it was the school desks that took me right back to elementary school. It was a very moving day for me meeting their bright faces and sharing unforgettable moments together.