Syria: Reaching Out to Children and Parents of War Exhibition 4/5/6 June 2015.
Met the very inspiring women, Aalaa and Kim, who organised the exhibition which consists of groundbreaking parent/childcare research, interviews and testimonials, short film, children’s activities, music by Chris Davies, art work by Syrian refugee children and an insight to syrian food and culture.
This truly was a moving portmanteau of life under conflict and would be beneficial in raising awareness in other areas regionally regarding the Syrian plight. Please inbox me if you can provide space where this could be set up again, ideally in areas where the Syrian crisis is underrepresented. Some of the information from the short film, listed below, really struck a chord as I listened to accounts by parents of the post traumatic stress they have to deal with.
‘My children would be sleeping and scared at the same time. They would run up and ask me to charge them. And I too would need them to charge me’
‘I’d cover their ears from the shelling.’
‘They would need to blindly trust me. So we invented ‘red code’ so when I mentioned the colour they would know to do as I said, no questions asked’
‘The war taught children to be aggressive with each other. We didn’t know what they wanted.’
‘The children learnt to differentiate war planes from cluster bombs and barrel bombs from tanks.’
‘If we became pregnant we would have fear concerning the birth. How would we get to hospitals through blockades that would last days.’
‘We all had ID cards but the younger kids have nothing to mark their identities, character and dreams. I want them to know they are part of a family and not alone- that they have roots to build a future.’
‘We used wireless devices originally used by the army called ‘qabda’. All homes had one to relay specific news. We would hear of planes heading towards a place, towards Saraqib, so we would get ready in robes and gloves. Children would dress and unlock doors so we could make a quick escape.’
‘When we reunited as families and were resettled in Britain, we found it difficult to explain new culture to our children. They would question why there were so many dogs around and thought the churches were big mosques.’
‘As asylum seekers you expect relief and rest but its like crossing a sea and there is a high mountain in front of you.’
‘Our kids are very afraid of aeroplanes and uniformed soldiers or police. We have left the war but the war has not left us. We explained to our children that the police here protect and serve in the UK.’
‘Our kids don’t have a sense of stability because we were always on the move all the time. Toys and friends etc were always changing during the conflict. children.’
‘The children cry easily. I pray inshAllah we will get them to forget and remove the terror from within them. Islam teaches integration and citizenship. To an extent we feel we belong to this country now.’
‘It’s difficult for a mother to parent a child alone and in war family is the most important. I want my children to learn and deal with loss, to be able to carry on with energy and strength. I want to be the safe shore, no matter how far they go out to sea.’
‘We had to protect and provide for our children so could not parent or raise them how we would like.’
‘We want them to forget the war but not their background, tradition, roots or culture.’
Last year I was delighted to help contribute poetry towards a prominent fundraising event held in London that raised awareness and funds for the survivors of Srebenica especially the countless women who were raped and tortured and the thousands of men, women and children who lost their lives. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Bosnian War and I am humbled and honoured to have been asked to perform poetry at Manchester Cathedral on 6th of July to commemorate this. Please join me there if you’re able to.. X
I watched a play this Tuesday about a cause that is very dear to my heart, since I travelled last year to the border towns of Syria/Turkey and met refugees. My thesis is also based on this war-torn country so the play was extremely insightful. Have a read below and watch out for it in the future! A must see for all! X
‘IN WAR, TRUTH IS THE FIRST CASUALTY’ – AESCHYLUS
A story from the Syrian conflict, devised by the company and scripted by award-winning writer Rob Johnston. Produced and directed by Benedict Power.
Syria has descended into civil war and Aleppo is besieged. Salah and Aisha have lost control of their lives and are plunging headlong into an uncertain future. The Syria they hoped to change is gone, in its place, violence and destruction – the arbitrary brutality of war. With the unexpected arrival of two Westerners, who have stayed too long in Syria and must now be given refuge, the fragile existence of the Syrian couple comes under even greater threat. How will they survive as they fall further away from hope, from what they know and from what they used to be?
Based on real-life accounts collected from Syrian refugees, aid workers, activists, journalists and photographers, Spring Reign features live performance, video, original music performed by Chris Davies, and frontline photography by Musa Chowdhury.
“Spring Reign is rich with images, music, politics, stories, character, language, situation and relevance.”
Matt Fenton – Artistic Director of Contact Theatre
Last night’s Manchester Muslim Writers event about Islamaphobia held as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week, was an evening filled with great company, poetry, stories, experiences, reflection and debates!
Zahid Hussain was a wonderful host and read us his futuristic story, I performed my spoken word piece on Islamaphobia. Ali Raza inspired us with poetry, Daniel Dyer with some spiritual reflections and Haroon Shafiq with his quick penned writing! Adil Mohammed and Karim Laalji were on it like a car bonnet updating the live Twitter feed!
The guests provided some wonderful debate about a broad range of topics including the draconian measures of the CTS bill, the role of the media, governmental legislation, foreign policy and the positive changes we can make towards social cohesion.
The BBC were there filming a documentary so watch out for that. Thanks to Manchester City Council for their support and also to Chorlton Library for the use of their facilities where we will meet on the last Friday of every month for our writer’s circle!