Green, Red, Black

There were many of them. About 20. Boys and girls not older than 12 all sitting around a big white paper with their colour pencils in their hands. All of them were looking very innocent and a bit lost. There was just one face in the group that stood out: a little girl of 10 years old. She was neither confused nor afraid. She was strong and confident. While all the other kids were looking around the room for some instructions, she already knew what she was going to draw.

She was squeezing the green, red and black colours in her small fist and was gazing at the paper looking like someone in meditation. You could see that she was trying to calm herself down before starting her drawing as if she knew that with all the anger in her she couldn’t make her drawing look like what she had in mind. She had learned her lesson after so many years of war. Violence was fruitless, whether on the battlefield or on paper. She had one chance. A drawing full of anger or on a ripped paper would be ignored.

I couldn’t wait to see what she was going to draw but didn’t want to distract her by staring too much. So I started walking around the class thinking about the life these kids had to go through. It was only yesterday that another family had been registered in the camp. They were a family of farmers. They had a beautiful land full of olive trees and were living a modest happy life in their cottage for many generations.

“I didn’t care about the war” the father had said. “I didn’t want to be involved. All I wanted was a piece of bread on the table for my family”.

They had forced them out of the land giving them only an hour to pack their belongings and leave. They travelled for a week looking for a place to stay and ended up here, in this camp where they were now surrounded by barbed wires instead of trees.

“We know we are not welcomed here in this country,” the mother told me with misty eyes.” But nowhere else is safe enough for the children”. She pointed at three dirty round faces who were grabbing her abaya with fear while trying to hide their little bodies.

What will become of these kids? I asked myself. Whom will they be when they grow up? Will they forget about the homeland and move on with their lives or keep the memory alive waiting for the day of their return? As I walked back to the drawing group to check what the little girl had drawn, the answer lay bare on the paper in front of her. A flag of her home country.

© 2020 Tanine Dunais All rights reserved