Sometimes the world feels so vast, it’s people too many and the weight of it to heavy to bear. At those moments, and if you were a person that enjoys their own company with the endless mazes ripe with possibilities of self discovery, then the obvious result would be a self engineered containment. It can have the color of your own choosing, a palace on a hill or a hut on a beach, butterflies in its gardens or pebbles on its beach, the choices are endless.
So, I travel in my mind to my own palace of containment, letting my mind chart the journey and my spirit project the destinations.
In a dense city like New York, having a rooftop or access to one is as precious as gold. It the place where you can ‘breathe’, where you can see a part of the sky that is larger than a matchbox and it is in many ways like going on vacation. So many things take place on New York rooftops, parties, hide outs, secret kisses, sunbathing, art, smoking, drinking and simply chilling. Oh, and also most films like to have their chases on at least one rooftop where the actor makes these impossible jumps from building to building. I was really caught by some colorful rooftops I saw on my last trip to New York, in this case, in Brooklyn.
It is a great wonder how we humans who live on this planet can look so different. We belong to different races, these races or tribes have different skin color, body shapes, average heights, eye color, face shape, voice, hair, strength… and the list goes on. But something that unites us all is what comes in and out of the eyes no matter what color or shape they are. It has been said that all creatures that have eyes possess a soul. Maybe that which lives inside each of us that we cannot see is using our eyes to communicate and to see. When someone wants you to be honest with them, they ask you to look them straight in the eyes, because the eyes, or what looks through the eyes, is not able to lie. The truth of us, of who we are and of what lives inside us has the eyes for its gateway. If electrical impressions can come in to the eyes, then it would suggest that they can come out in the same way. So much mystery lives in our very own human design…
photo taken: a little girl learning to draw faces at CCPP in Sihanoukville.
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.
“We want peace in the world”… Is that too much to ask?
Every child I spoke to in Congo told me the same thing, responded the same way when I asked them what their message to the world was, what was it they wished for the most…
” I want to live a peaceful life”
“I want to be able to go to school and not be kidnapped again”
“I want the war to stop”
“I want to find my parents again and live a happy peaceful life”
This boy in Kinshasa wanted to deliver his message in artform. He wanted to draw his message and asked me to pass it on, because maybe if everyone knew that the children in Congo do not want the war, then maybe, just maybe, the world can help to stop it.
Please share this message from a young boy in Congo, the country that has lost more than 5 million people so far to a bloody conflict that spares no child, mother or old person.