Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who will put a smile on their faces?

Sometimes, my family and friends ask me why I do what I do. My answer is that the smile on kids' faces is valueless.

Last week, I started a new class of 8 students, two sessions a week. In the past I couldn't do this alone. But now there's an English woman volunteering with me to teach Iraqi kids. She was excited to meet with the students. On that day, she was waiting for me outside while it was raining heavily. Her clothes were all wet and she was using a scarf as an umbrella. Helen, whose last name shall remain anonymous, came with me and met the eight students as well as their families as we discussed with the kids the subjects they want to learn.

My students enjoyed meeting Helen, the new teacher, very much. She made them feel there are people who care about them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Asmaa Ali, 11

My idea of life is a very simple life. Not complicated.

First, I want to study.

Second, I want to draw.

Third, I like to make necklaces.

Fourth, I want to be successful in my life for me and my family, exactly like a normal family.

We are without a nation. When will we not live in a strange country? When will we have a home? I am without safety. I am unable to study. My wish is to be successful despite the difficult situation now. We are refugees. If that is OK with you, don't even ask me about it.

My hobbies are drawing and making girls accessories like beaded necklaces.

Hussein Ali, 14

I was a spoiled child and I had many toys, including a Playstation 2, a soccer ball and painting materials. It was a very nice time. My father had a Mercedes that was very nice. I played in the car with my sister many times. My father had to sell the car because we were forced to leave Iraq and we came to Syria. We left everything. I'm very sad because I didn't bring anything with me and I didn't say goodbye to my relatives and friends.

My hobby is drawing which I like very much. I also like to play soccer.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

For Fatma

Few days ago, a friend of mine arrived from the United States to Damascus to do some work. While we were meeting with someone, I received a text message from my sister in Baghdad informing me that my other sister had a baby. They named her Fatma. I was very happy and I wanted to share my happiness with my friend. I also wanted to share with him my frustration since I was missing everybody so much. My friend, of course, was excited for me that he wrote a poem on the birth of Fatma. However, I wanted to share with everybody this poem.

A child is born in a country flooded with tears
where rivers of blood have overflowed their banks.
A country that knows its share of shock
but little of the awe that was promised it.
A child is born amidst the rubble
delivered by nations a world away.
Where ignorant men smirk and say shit happens
as thugs and madmen crush beauty
and ancient mysteries are lost forever.
A child is born as an occupying army
watches hell takes its place on earth
and drills and hammers and batteries
and water, glorious water, become the tools
of the devil among men.
A child is born amidst the screams of the tortured
and the sadistic glee of their torturers.
A child is born in a country flooded with the bodies of the dead
discarded in soccer fields, markets, on roadsides or trash heaps.
A child is born and half a world away
I hear her cry, I am Iraqi
My people, my culture live on in me.
A child is born in a country on fire,
her mother cradles her close to her breast
And hope is resurrected from the ashes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008