Saturday, October 22, 2005
African Peace and Human Rights Education
I hide my eyes for the scary parts of movies. I'm not sure I've actually recovered from seeing the "Exorcist"--eeh gads! how long ago. The same protective defense comes into play when I think of all the troubles in the world today; I don't want to look. Children's drawings about war make me look.
I paste children's drawings up at home and pour over them--probably something having to do with not having children. When kids draw something and then hand the paper to me to see, they seem quite pleased for the attention to it for the first minute. But then give me the look that says "it's just a picture; don't read too much into it" Something like that, kids throw themselves into the experience of drawing and want the adults around them to experience the right-here-and-now too.
Drawings such as the one posted have a different purpose and effect, but cast the same spell over me as other children's drawings do. So I look and see what I wish to avoid seeing. Granted they're done by older children, but kids nonetheless. The purpose in making them is to find a way to put their experiences in a place, a safer place we all desire.
This drawing is one of many that a friend of mine here in Pittsburgh has. He's collected them and hopes to publish a book to aid the children of this war weary place. The drawings were done by children abducted in the long largely unreported war in northern Uganda. The kids were rescued and drawing is a way for them to reestablish themselves in normal life.
Peter Okema was born in Gulu, northern Uganda in 1978. I met him after reading scathing editorials about Uganda's president at The Black Star News and then seeing from his contact information he was at Pitt. Meeting up with him also introduced me to the African Student Organization at Pitt. The ASO is really cool. I suppose I'd probably find most student organizations so, but the ASO is particularly interesting because it brings together students from many countries. I've told Peter he's the hardest working activist I know.
African Trans Atlantic is his Web site. From there you can learn a little about his work. Because it's local you can easily become involved. Please tell me if you do and maybe you'll help get to get up and stand up too.
If you are one for clicking the links check out this story in the current online edition of The Black Star News. The New York City Gulu Walk was today, October 22. UNight organized it and now the page is about this event, but who knows what the future will bring? Maybe we can walk here in Pittsburgh too.
There are so many ways for us to give our time. Share what you do and what you dream up. Our actions don't have to be coordinated, but there is strength in togetherness.