Those of us that watched even the first season of Homeland understand the impact of war on children. In war, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins are killed. Children lose their family members; children are killed, maimed and even exploited to actively participate in violence. I was in Afghanistan for a year in 2006 and saw these effects first-hand. Eight years later in 2016, the UN estimates more than 5000 civilians were killed or maimed (source), a third of those children - a record number since they started counting in 2009.
Wars eventually end, but it's just the beginning for the recovery. Orphans and newly-single parents find themselves in refuge camps or standing in the rubble of their home, looking for the pieces so they can start to put them back together.
Recently, I attended a charity event hosted by WAR Child to raise money for the local group here in The Netherlands. They have efforts in South America, Africa, Palestine, the Middle East and Sri Lanka. They are guided by three simple principles in their efforts:
I love and hate creativity. Writing this blog involves a tremendous amount of creativity for my tiny brain that loves bits and bytes more than words. I wish it came easier, but I know this is good for me - a sort of exercise for my brain and soul.
Participation and inclusion is easy to say and to talk about, but actively engaging in daily life requires constant attention. Smile and include those around you. If you ask someone "how was your day", then listen to the answer, don't ask to be simply be "nice".
Conflict Sensitivity matters greatly in War and children, but can be applied anywhere and any situation. Simply realize others around you are humans, struggling with conflict at work or home, struggling with their future and their past. It's easy to idolize the popular and look down upon the less-fortunate but with a small amount of diligence we can cast those thoughts away.
Embrace the above three ideas - they are gentle reminders we are all equal and all humans. I have a silly technique that helps me do this. I imagine the person next to me eating cereal in their underwear. We have all done it, if only as a child, and none of us look that great doing it. I see them do it and I see me doing it. It's therapeutic. :)
Paul in Amsterdam.