[CLICK HERE TO READ THE CAPTIONS AND TO SEE MORE DRAWINGS]
So I’ve recently been seeing this heartbreaking post of drawings made by children in Gaza a lot on my dash and I wanted to share a different perspective on this issue with you all.
The drawings you see above were also made by children in Gaza. Last year, I was part of a group working on a project initiated by Oxfam which aimed to highlight the problems facing children in Gaza today. Oxfam got in touch with primary school children from Al-Zarqa, one of the Gaza Strip’s poorest areas, and asked them to draw pictures of their hopes, fears and dreams for the future. Afterwards, their pictures were sent to us and we showcased them to the public in London. We also printed the childrens’ drawings on postcards which were sent to William Hague, the current Foreign Secretary of the UK. We asked people to write on these postcards and to call on the UK Government to prioritise children’s rights in its foreign policy work on Palestine. What struck me the most about these drawings was their sheer innocence and the simplicity of the children’s hopes and dreams. You would never guess that these scenes were drawn by children in Gaza, any child around the world could have drawn such images and this is important to note. Too often the media tries to portray Gaza’s children as future kalashnikov-wielding terrorists and suicide bombers who know nothing but violence and hatred when nothing could be further from the truth. These drawings are proof that Gaza’s children, despite the struggles and hardships that they’ve endured, dream of a better, safer and more peaceful future.
The event was very successful and the drawings were featured in the Guardian. We were invited by an MP who saw the drawings to showcase our exhibition in the Houses of Parliament. The exhibition in Parliament was attended by many MPs as well as Sir Gerald Kaufman (who you might remember from this speech). The response from them was amazing and they were all touched by the drawings.
The highlight of this whole experience however came after the exhibition in Parliament when we returned to the Oxfam offices and we actually got to speak to some of the children who made these drawings. They were some of the funniest, sweetest and most intelligent kids we’d ever spoken with. They told us about life in Gaza and their struggles. Just as they were telling us about the electricity cuts they experience on a daily basis, our call with them was cut. This happened several times due to an electricity shortage crisis which still plagues Gaza today. We told them about the exhibition and how many people came to see their drawings. Their happiness at hearing these words was indescribable.
I will never forget these amazing children and I hope to be able to visit them one day. Their final words to us before we said our goodbyes will stay with me forever:
"Please don’t forget us" they said. "We tell you about our struggles, you listen to us, yes, you may feel upset but we are the ones that actually experience these struggles. We have to live through the bombings and the killings. We don’t want to live like this, we want to live like normal children in the rest of the world, we want to live in peace. Please don’t forget this. Please don’t forget us"