In the early hours of the 16th of May six-year-old Suzy Eshkuntana was buried alive for seven hours in the rubble of her family home in Gaza after it was hit by an Israeli rocket that killed her mother and four of her siblings. Just a few days later I began this painting of her rescue, based on a photograph by the Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem, which as I wrote in my post The Rescue would “celebrate her young life being saved, and in memory of the family she has lost.”
The painting is now finished after almost three and a half months but over these past many weeks it began to take on a new meaning for me with so many stories of the loss, pain and suffering of children being reported every day: the discovery of the unmarked graves of children from Indian Reservation Schools across Canada; the 9-year-old boy injured and orphaned in an Islamophobic attack on his family in London, Ontario; children killed and maimed in the bombing of their schools in Northern Syria; children dying of starvation as a result of the war in Yemen; and of course the never-ending loss of life and suffering of the children and their families in Afghanistan for whom all of our hearts are breaking at the moment.
I have chosen War Child as the title of my painting in recognition of the work of War Child Canada, a charity which is dedicated to “protecting childhood in war-affected areas through education, opportunity and justice.” War Child was founded first in the UK in 1994 and in the Netherlands in 1995, and then in 1999 it was founded here in Canada by the dedicated and inspiring humanitarian physician Dr.Samantha Nutt who in July 2011 was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to improving the plight of young people in the world’s worst conflict zones.
If you have been moved by Suzy’s story as I have been, together with the stories of all the innocent children who have been lost or who are suffering from the iniquities of war each and every day, I invite you to join me in supporting Dr. Nutt and the vital work of her charity here at War Child Canada.
War Child – 2021 Acrylic on canvas 72″ x 52″
“Every Child Matters” has never been more meaningful. Hug your children and grandchildren tighter every day for we are the lucky ones in this troubled world of ours.
For Suzy and for all the heroes who rescued her.
Today I grieve with my treasured Muslim friends and colleagues mourning the loss of such a beautiful family in London, Ontario who were just out for an evening walk, and thinking of their 9 year old son in hospital, orphaned by such a despicable crime of terrorism and hate. I will always stand with you against Islamophobia, hatred and racism of any kind. My heart breaks with yours as I send my deepest condolences to all of their family and friends in mourning tonight.
This is hell on earth and we must not turn away. It is not about whose side you are on or who you pray to, it is not about who wins or who loses, it is about the suffering and loss of life of innocent children, it is about the loss of humanity and a universal failure of leadership in a world that has lost its way. Wishing Eid Mubarak to dear friends tonight is hard knowing that their hearts are breaking. I hope they know I am thinking of them, together with all grieving families so far away but yet so close.
Some good news yesterday that four of the children separated from their parents at the US border in 2017, one of whom was only three, will be reunited with their parents this week. Sadly the parents of far too many have yet to be located.
Giving water to those waiting to vote has now become a crime in Georgia. Here are a few who seem to enjoy their water but will remain silent no doubt on this Kafka-esque, upside down, crazy-town ruling.
“This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end.” President Joe Biden
Happy International Women’s Day to all the amazing women in my life who inspire me each and every day at home and at work, together with all of our healthcare heroes. Here are some of the women who inspire us all both as leaders and protesters and who sadly in the process too often pay the ultimate price. This year the theme for today is “Choose to Challenge,” which is why I am dedicating this post to the memory of Kyal Sin, who “chose to challenge” but was murdered five days ago at the age of 19 by the Myanmar Police. “Everything will be OK” she believed, but “Will it be?” is the question for our times.
First the good news as reported in a new court filing by Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff, author of “Separated” a book that should be read by all: the parents of 105 of the children separated at the border by the previous criminal administration have been found. Unfortunately, the filing goes on to report that the parents of 506 of the remaining children have yet to be reached; 322 of them are being looked for in their countries of origin; 168 are attempted to being located in the United States; for the remaining 16 there no contact numbers available.
In the words of Winston Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
P.S. My apologies to those of you looking for my promised story behind the leaf drawings, this has taken on a life of its own and has now become a work in progress. Stay tuned.
Families Belong Together
On September 22nd last year I posted the centre part of this image on the day that 200,000 American lives were reported to have been so tragically lost to the ravages of COVID-19. Today, one year since the beginning of the pandemic we learn that the number has now reached 511,133. In Brazil it is 246,560; in India 156,418; in the UK 120,580; here in Canada 21,715; and worldwide the number is 2.47 million.
Each one of those lives lost, both young and old, leaves families and friends in mourning; today we mourn with them too. We also think about all of our healthcare and frontline heroes who cared for them all, often the last ones to be by their sides as they took their last breaths. Today is a day once again to say thank you to each and every one of them, for they too are also always in our thoughts.
In a memorial ceremony tonight at the White House President Biden spoke so movingly to the nation, but his words I felt were also to a grieving world:
“While we have been fighting this pandemic for so long we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or blur. We must do so to honor the dead but equally important to care for the living, those loved ones left behind.”
How fortunate we are to have President Biden in the White House at this moment in history.
666+186 Day LIV – Journey’s End.
Thank you to all of you who have joined me over the past few months. Knowing you have been “looking over my shoulder” and sharing my concern for the children has been a great support. Over the next day or two I will be writing the story of my journey, which I will post once it is completed.
I thought I would add today my words from that first day, October 22nd as a reminder of the reason why my journey began:
I have begun this drawing of the 546 leaves I collected today from the Pacific Spirit Park to represent the 546 children separated from their parents. As a parent and grandparent who loves his children and grandchildren so much this is my way of representing the heartbreak and the anguish being felt by so many families suffering in this tragic story of state supported kidnapping of children. As the drawings continue I will post their progress and will be thinking of each child as I draw every one of these fragile leaves.