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The Greatest Dream



Our Tribe celebrated the International Day of Peace last week. For kids whose lives were torn asunder by war, hate, and evil, Peace is an important component of their post - ISIS lives. I am not saying that we have a full understanding of this immense term, “Peace” but for them, it goes hand in hand with freedom and being released from the captivity of ISIS. It is directly connected with being healed from the trauma and ravages of war, being in a place of safety and security which releases them to embrace peace of mind and soul.



In thinking about Peace, I have thought about hate, hate of such proportion that can willingly cause the genocide of a people. Elie Wiesel in his reflections recalls that the first death in the Bible was murder. Concerning the Anatomy of Hate, he says “It does not take much for human beings collectively or individually, to suddenly one day pit themselves like wild beasts one against the other, their worst instincts laid bare. One decision, one word, and a family or community will drown in blood.”

Not all of our students have come to a place of peace. For some the past is still haunting, the blood they saw shed in the past is still beckoning them, tempting them to shed their own. It is like a hook in the mouth of a fish, trying to reel them in. They lack peace, they desperately want that freedom it brings, but they have not grounded themselves in peace.




“You establish peace for us”

Isaiah 26:12




One of SOHF Staff

“I grew up in Old Shariya not knowing peace. As a child our village was bombed three times by the Saddam Hussein regime. We lived in caves; we lived in sheer terror. Many members of my family were murdered, hung out in public squares for execution. I can tell you everything about war, about the fear it brings, the fear that then turns into physical sickness and devours you and kills you. It has taken me years to climb out of that black hole created by war, and to come to a place of peace, of mental and emotional health.

Sometimes peace is simply stillness, quietness, a place of tranquillity where I find my being is at peace, free to be the me that I was created to be, the place where the scars from the past can slowly be healed.

Celebrating Peace Day is empowering. Our kids who were rescued from ISIS are sending a strong message of freedom, of the liberation that now enables them to live in peace. Our kids make hope, joy, peace and love the core of their being as these are the things they have been deprived of, that have been stolen from them and for which they are desperate.”


 


Sahla, Director of The Hope Center

“It is vital to celebrate Peace Day. Every human being has the right to live in peace. Peace is a fundamental human right.

Our kids who were rescued from ISIS have all experienced, violence as they were thrust into the heart of a war zone where they spent most of their childhood.

They dreamed of peace, which for them could be a safe place, security, a place where they are not tortured, where they are fed. This is what peace means to them. They put the words, Peace, Freedom and Life together, they are inseparable.

It was amazing to see them all dressed in colorful party clothes, coming with great intention to celebrate Peace. Their joy and excitement was tangible, it was a big deal for them.”


 


“The effect of righteousness will be peace”

Isaiah 26: 12


Faiza, Survivor

“Peace was taken from me when I was six years old. I was taken by brutal men to be their slave in Syria. I was a kid, I had no choice, my voice was silenced. Every right of a child and a human was taken from me in captivity. I dreamed of Peace. I was determined that I would survive all that they did to me and would be set free and live a life of peace.

Springs of Hope has helped to restore all that was taken from me, some people tell me that they would not be able to guess my background. That is due to the love, the care, the place of tranquility and peace that Springs of Hope has built for us. They have helped me to overcome the ravages of war.

Today I have every reason to celebrate Peace Day. I am joyful from the inside. I am peaceful from the inside. I am smiling from the inside and I want everyone to see this.”


Faiza today and in captivity

 

Manal, Survivor

“My childhood, and my peace were taken from me. When in captivity one Yezidi lady tried to protect me by cutting my hair and pretending that I am a boy. That actually terrified me. Then they came to take me to fight and she revealed that I am a girl so they made me their slave.

I still don't have the peace that I am looking for. At the moment I am living off the joy and peace that my friends have. It makes me calm to see their peace but I have not come to a place of peace. I hope that will happen.”





 

“It is easy to win a war, it is hard to win a peace.”

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks


Ramzia, Survivor

“Peace Day is a perfect day. It is a day far from the violence, war and bloodshed that we have known. It is full of calmness, laughter and joy. I was so happy and determined that I would keep hold of the peace that is within me, I will guard it and make sure it grows. I want to spread my peace to others.

Last year we had a wonderful course called Peace Heroes where we learned about people from all over the world who had suffered yet chose to be different, chose to be people of Peace and to spread the Peace. I have determined to be one who lives and spreads peace.”




 

“Seek peace and pursue it.”

Psalm 34


Haniya, Survivor

“It was a great honor to participate in the Peace Day. My childhood and everything that a child should have was taken from me. In the space of a few hours, the peace and safety I had known with my family had ended. I was alone in the captivity of Daesh. I was a young child.

My friends and I prepared a short play about peace, about resolving conflicts with friends, about mutual respect, honor and understanding even when there are differences. We can always choose peace and find a path of peace.

Peace must be our priority. Peace must come first, both for me, and for my people.”


 

Chinar, Survivor

“When I come to Springs of Hope, I find peace. Thinking about Peace today and celebrating it with my friends was very special but if I am honest, my peace is here, it is being with my friends, and living our lives together. I have no family so until I know where they are, I can not be at peace within myself.

For me, peace is safety and security. I have these when I am inside The Hope Centre. I try to keep this feeling when I am at home with my relatives, but I have to work hard at it.

Celebrating Peace today was celebrating life in color.”



 

Kristina, Survivor

“The world is not at peace. The world needs peace. The world has forgotten about peace. I lost everything because of hatred and war. My childhood, my education, my family, all of these were peace, and then they were gone.

Today we celebrated peace. Peace is Springs of Hope, and peace is in our hearts. Today no one can take my peace. We all are symbols of peace. We have fought hard for peace; it is something that I certainly want the world to see.

Thank you for loving us, thank you for giving us our life back and for guiding us to a place of peace. I suggested that we make white hearts as they symbolize our hearts, hearts now full of peace. ”



 

Jadlin, Survivor

“This was my first time participating in Peace Day. I hope that it was an example to the whole world that even in a conflict zone, we can find peace, we can live in peace. We make a daily choice for peace.

I saw peace all around us, even the way the trees moved in the breeze was peaceful. Our hearts were full of love and peace. I will always look for the path of peace.”








 

Rahima, Survivor

“We deserve peace. Our years in captivity in ISIS were appalling years, I will never forget all that we saw and endured. Evil that no human being should experience.

Today was so special. We all gathered to celebrate peace, our freedom, love and tolerance for all humankind. By doing this, we are making a statement, first to ourselves and to all survivors of hatred. You did not destroy us. We survived and will leave in peace.”







 

Jalal, Survivor

“I have witnessed painful, ugly scenes. Things that no eyes should see. Sounds that no ear should hear. I did not want to live. Thank God, that has passed and I am leaning into life and future. It was totally amazing to celebrate Peace Day for the first time in my life. It was a powerful and very moving day.”












 

Vina, Survivor

“This was a very great event. I drew my hope for peace and hung it on the Peace Tree for all to see.”




























 

Radwan, Musician

“My family and I managed to escape from Shingal when Daesh invaded. Our peaceful existence as families and a community was cut in pieces in a few hours. As we fled to Kurdistan we saw dead and dying and endless pools of blood. We were a peaceful community and could not comprehend such atrocities.

I found peace when I came to Springs of Hope, it looks different from the peace I knew in Shingal. My peace is just that, “my peace" it connects with love, with hope, with freedom. Coming to a place of peace has enabled me to pursue my goals. I am both a music student and an intern with SOHF and a student at the University of Duhok College of Music.

I plan to share my peace with my students through music.”


 

Ayman, Musician

“This was a glorious day. Peace means everything to me. Springs of Hope has led the way for us to live in peace, to experience peace in our lives. My music and peace go together hand in hand. Music is part of healing from war, we all need it, and we all appreciate it. Thank you for giving us the ability to learn music and bring peace to our community.”










 

Maram, Musician

“We are children of war. Our souls have searched for peace. Music is a place where I find peace and healing. I was honored to play songs of peace today.”
















 

“What is the greatest concern of the Bible? Injustice to fellow men and bloodshed. What is the greatest dream of the prophets? Peace! The only men in antiquity - no philosophers in Greece, no philosophers anywhere in the world were capable of dreaming even, that there will be a time when war will be abolished and there will be peace - the only men were the prophets. That is the message of the prophets. That is the greatest dream." - Abraham Joshua Heschel in his last interview. 1972. Here in a conflict zone, with endless turbulence, endless bloodshed, we hold fast to the Greatest Dream.



1 Comment


Powerful! Very humbling and heart wrenching. Tears, mixed with much admiration xx

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