Published on 2009-03-16 06:46:00 - 5893 Hits
For the First Convoy for Peace organised by the Hommes de Parole Foundation, we went to Gaza and saw the after-effects of war. We saw miles of unearthed land, uprooted trees, ruins and rubble mixed with kitchen utensils, cloths and broken toys, all silent signs of daily life in shatters.
Broken toys ... and "broken" children too. The main concern here is the children. Everyone is trying to protect them, protect their future. During the first few days of the hostilities, many a parent tried to hide the origin of the bombs so that their children would not join the vicious cycle of violence, would not be tempted with hatred, because protecting these children means maintaining the hope of peace. But how can innocence be maintained in the middle of so much debris and so many victims?
In the streets, in the refugee camps, and also in the schools, unusual silence reigns among the children, from the youngest up through the 15-16 year olds. None of the usual noisy games in the schoolyard, no laughing, and in some places, not even any yelling or crying. Their empty gazes depict a terrible reality, the absence of joy. As usual after intensive extended bombings, children cannot concentrate, they tremble at the slightest noise, or when a door bangs, even slightly. Like everyone else, they are afraid that there is more fighting to come.
Remember that before this most recent period of horror, the people of Gaza already suffered from serious shortages of all sorts. International aid is flowing in now but the shortages will continue for a very long time.
These traumatised children need to be distracted, to be coaxed out of their state of anxiety and, for many of them, their autism. It is important to keep the children busy all the time, to get them to play, make drawings, read, looks at films. Although not everyone agrees, we feel that the children need blankets and warm clothes and shoes. To keep these children busy and help them overcome their traumas it is important to have ample games, balls, musical instruments, colouring books, paints, coloured crayons, educational games, learning-letters, dolls, etc.
Funding is needed to help the teachers and their assistants, group leaders, musicians, teachers who teach singing, dancing, puppetry and drama. Professionals need to be brought in from Europe to help and train the local group leaders and facilitators. This help is badly needed, and in all our conversations, we heard the same appeal. The teachers here are too isolated. We need to think about everything that is educational, everything that can make a crack in the door to peace, everything that can lead the way to dialogue and usher in a feeling of happiness.
The Hommes de Parole Foundation has an office in the centre of Gaza and is equipped to handle the distribution of the goods it brings in. In order to provide efficient, long-term assistance to meet specific needs, we plan to set up a permanent road bridge to Gaza, (as we did in Bosnia, Iraq and Rwanda) which can bring emergency goods into Gaza, from all points of origin.
On 18 and 19 March, the Third Convoy for Peace will be accompanied by Imams and Rabbis who will meet with the children in the schools in Sderot and in Gaza and give them messages, drawing and letters from the children on the "other" side, so that together they can start building a future based on peace. Toys, clothes and food will be distributed. We really need your help and support for their undertaking.
To help us, participate in our convoys and keep track of our activities, we suggest you look at the Hommes de Parole profile Facebook, HommesDeParole profile Twitter or go to our blog http://pourquoi.blog.free.fr
Organised by Hommes de Parole Foundation in partnership with the International Association of Human Values, the Fifth World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace will be held in Bangalore (India), during 2015, at the invitation of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a leader of non-violence in India.
The Third Congress took decisions on the promotion of a peace culture in Israel and Palestine and on the inclusion of women and young people in future meetings.
The Fifth World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace will implement these commitments. This congress will bring together representatives of the great spiritual traditions, and leave ample space for women and young people.