We’ve just finished our final workshop with 62 extraordinary Iraqi, Palestinian and Jordanian children.
Jim Webb and the folks at National Geographic had the genius idea to give the kids simple writing exercises during the course of the workshops – to help us better understand their lives, experiences and thought processes.
The exercises included answering questions like: “I remember…” and “I dream of…” We also had the children write an imaginary letter to someone they love or admire.
Below is a sampling of what they wrote.
Bassme: “I remember when the war started. My mother and I were sitting on the porch, I had final exams, and a man got killed in front of me.”
Aya: “I dream of becoming an active person in society, and to be able to help others. My hope is to become a successful architect, and to travel to Venice. I remember once I had one friend, but now I have a lot.”
Saber: “My life’s dream is to help people. I would love to make a study about the percentage of homeless people, and to open a project for the people to be able to donate for the poor families. Since I was a little kid I dreamed that I would have a magazine to write in with my friends and the people I love about the common issues, Palestine and general opinion. We are now the generation of revenge. Everyone wants to fight with each other. Why aren’t we like brothers? Like the Quran says: ‘We are all brothers in Islam’. So why can we not live like that?”
Fatima: “I remember that my happiest days were with my father before he died, and I remember that when I was little my father used to play with me and my sisters. I remember the war in Iraq, and I see something burning in my eyes, the cars, and the homes. I also remember my cats and my sisters in Iraq. I hope that things will get better in Iraq.”
Noora: “I remember the first day I came to Jordan we didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know the language that this country was speaking. But after living here for many years, I mastered the language, and I got used to my life in Jordan and now I am very happy.”
Aya: “My mother, I love you so much. Saying I love you is not enough because you raised me. I am sorry mom because I did not appreciate that while I was young but now I do. The older I get the more I appreciate that. You spent nights awake while I was sick. All these words will not show you how much I love you.
Hawa: “To my father and mother. They are the most valuable people to my heart. I love them with all my heart. I live in their shade (in a good way) and I love them. They made me. They taught me how to love and respect others. I hope for them health and peace, and to stay in a nest. I hope that Allah dear will keep them and to keep them for me forever. Thank you.
Fatmah: My mother, for I love her a lot, and she is the one that raised us, and taught us, and she tired herself, and suffered in raising us, and she is the one who helped us go through hardship. She also taught us that the human being has to be strong, and I am sure that the mother is the center of mercy. I love you mother.”
Mohamad: “My cousin’s car impresses me a lot, because, it is very fast, and it has a turbo engine and it has big speakers, an amplifier and two screens and a system.”
Fatema: “To my dear sisters who are in Iraq now, I’m sending this letter to them and wish they could come with their husbands and kids here. I love mom very much and respect her, I wish she could stay with me forever. And this letter is also for my dear father who is dead but I still feel him with me. I hope he is in heaven now. I also wish that all Muslims will be in heaven with him.”
Rashad: “I love you dad, because, you helped me and you taught me how to think about my life, my career. I know that you get tired every day so that we can stay alive, so when I grow up I am going to take good care of you.”
And this from 11-year-old Sandian, whom we called “The Philosopher” because of her astonishing analysis of photos during the workshops:
“I remember the war, and the screams I used to hear at night, they were from a child who lost his parents or from a mother who lost her children, or from a wife who lost her husband. Yes, all of this is tied to the war. From it I saw eyes filled with tears, but from this pain I found support, for hope was my title, and the light of love and forgiveness I held in my arms, so that I may finish my journey. The sentence I love and always say is: ‘From the young of the future; the little ones of the nation; the heroes of tomorrow.’