16 June 2015
Peace through the eyes of Syrian children
|Peace is what it was like before the war|
On Tuesday, 26 May, three CPT members of the Iraqi Kurdistan
team took the Children’s Art and Peace Project to the students of Kobani School
The children were refugees from Syria. Their cheerful faces
belied any suffering that they had endured. Several were wearing school uniforms
they may have worn when they were students in Syria. They eagerly
participated in the program, in many ways demonstrating the resilience
Wanting to show that working together is enriching, we told
them that we came from different countries, with the same dream. One of us
is from Poland, another from Canada and the third from the USA. We are a
peace team, involved in working for peace in spite of our own government’s
decisions regarding solutions to the violence. People around the world are
joining hands, seeking peace, dreaming of what a world of peace would look
like. Then, ready to have them share their dreams, we asked them, “What
does peace look like?”
Peace looks like me sitting with my family.
Peace looks like being able to talk on the telephone to
relatives who live in nearby
Peace looks like safety, no police knocks.
Peace looks like kind words.
Peace looks like a circle, people holding hands.
Peace looks like bringing flowers after an argument.
Peace looks like riding a bicycle free and unafraid.
In the conversation that followed, when describing working
together with her group, one young participant quoted a Syrian proverb,
“Instead of putting eyelashes on, we poke ourselves in the eye.” Another
Syrian proverb that came out of the group was, “Instead of building a bridge,
it was so difficult to express ourselves, we made soup.”
Our translator told us that the participants were using
familiar Syrian proverbs to describe the difficulties of working together.
Sometimes our intentions are good and beautiful (eyelashes) but the result
can be hurtful (poking ourselves) or our effort to create something beautiful
and useful (a bridge) can result in a mess (soup). What comfort we can
often find in our own cultural expressions. How can understanding these
help unite us?
Our closing circle included a Syrian gentleman and four
women: one Canadian, one Polish, one from the USA and one Iraqi, holding
hands for peace as we reflected on the question, “Are we poking ourselves in
the eye, making soup, or making peace?”