The most striking thing about visiting the refugee camps is always the unmistakable bright spark of hope that lives in the children. Despite all the hardship and unbearable living circumstances, they find the ability to play, laugh and be children.
After a puzzling 2016 to say the least, when almost nothing conformed to the ‘norm’ of life as we expect it to be, from world affairs, to weather, and strange phenomena; 2017 approaches and I find myself moving towards it with caution, deep thought, care, apprehension and hope for a shift towards higher standards and a world with saner priorities.
Wishing you all a peaceful transition and a bright new year!
With love from frosty beautiful Germany~
My daughter asked me after hearing of the sad events caused by terrorism in Beirut and Paris the last 2 days: “why do humans terrorize other humans?” Questions like this always get us into a journey of search for the truth, for reason, for sanity and for an explanation that can offer settlement, even if it was short-lived.
We are given a choice, the moment we were born to be as good or as bad as we want to be. We battle with our own morality throughout our lives here on this planet. We seek out desperately that bit of cool blue logic to give us strength to choose wisely.
I posted several ‘pray for Paris’ tributes on social media today and I was caught by one comment from someone saying that “if prayer helped, then the world would already be a better place”. But do we just give up hope in the face of an uncertain future? What kind of world are our children inheriting?
Wishing you all a hopeful, bright and enriching new year to come~ Thank you for your support and valued kind words in this past eventful year. Looking forward and upward. x
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?
One of the greatest powers of being human is the ability to move on. No matter how difficult or hopeless a situation is for a person, there is always the chance that they will be looking back at it with a lighter heart. Maybe this is what gives us all the hope to keep moving and to seek the lighter side of life, because we know that there is a certainty of the good overcoming the bad and of the light overcoming the dark. It is the constant sacred dance between our nights and our days that demonstrates to us this simple law.
photo taken: a girl on the streets of Phnom Penh~ Cambodia
If I were to put one common word when describing children from any country, I would say ‘resilience’…
Children are developing beings, changing at a rapid speed, growing, absorbing, evolving and filled with energy that drives them through their process of becoming young adults. What I saw in a lot of the children in Congo was hope, strength, power, joy and possibility despite of and against all odds.
At the beginning of their life journey, their future is unpredictable, unknown and allowing for just anything to happen. It makes me wonder what will become of the these young bright faces that I met, where they are now and where they would be years from now.
photo taken: during a french lesson at the Cajed center for the care of ‘les enfants de la rue’ (the street children) in Kinshasa.
When the streets of the city are your home, when you are solely responsible for your own safety while other children are tucked safely at home, when your survival is depending entirely on the kindness of others…
These piercing eyes belong to one of the 300, 000 children that call the streets of the cities in Congo their home. “les enfants de la rue” ~ the children of the street, wild eyed, witty, emotionally fragile, hard shelled, untrusting… the sad product of a humanity gone wrong. But still the strength in them and the hope in their eyes could not be missed.
I met these children in a center in Kinshasa that offers them lessons, food, daytime shelter and guidance where needed. They sang to me, drew messages on the blackboard for me to photograph and sang me their national anthem in a most rhythmic excellence which I filmed and will share in a future post.
Childhood is the most sacred part of life. We as adults are entrusted with it to shield it, protect it and allow it its full potential…
And yet, in places like Congo, children are forcefully taken from their families by armed forces, sometimes as early as 7 years old, forced into military training, a life of crime, drugs, war and are shoved brutally into an ugly adulthood robbing them of their gift, their innocent childhood.
UNICEF and other NGOs have been actively struggling to save these children from the grips of war, offering them temporary sanctuary in an attempt to help them kickstart their childhood again and reunite with their families or other foster families in the Congolese society.
With arts, some of these children told me that they are able to escape into other places in their minds, places free of their memories of war, of killing, of brutality. They can dream of a normal life, of happiness and of recapturing the freedom that is an integral part of childhood.
Each time I hear parents trying to convince their children in our western world to eat more, to drink more milk, to eat just another bite; my mind goes back to the children I met in Congo. A glass of milk can have the power to transform a desperate little face into a bright smiling one, the milk she drank out of utter need, no room for luxury in her world of fighting for survival.
I find myself showing my 7 year old daughter these photographs repeatedly while telling her stories to put more perspective into her life in my attempt to tip the scales away from materialism and towards a consciousness and humanity about other less fortunate humans we share this planet with.
I can only hope that this awareness will make a difference in her future life. The first step to actively helping is consciously knowing.
I am starting this series with faces of children because this is what impacted me the most. The innocence, the vulnerability, the undying hope in their eyes and the strong will to survive is where this story begins.