Syria

War Child

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.

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For this week’s photo challenge from The Daily Post Krista asks us to share a photo that depicts our interpretation of “security.”

Given the events of the last 24 hours I hope you will allow me to become political today.

The photograph is of the entrance to the United Nations Building in New York, which I took in 1965 on my first visit to this greatest of cities as a young student visiting America for the first time.

Yesterday, like all of you, I saw the horrific images from the nerve gas attack on the people of the city of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, northern Syria, images that will haunt me for many years to come. Children gasping for air, suffocating, and dying along with their family members in a war crime that is now imprinted on the minds of all of us. There are not enough words to express the anger, despair and sorrow that we all feel today as we express our deepest sympathy to all those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from this atrocity.

This morning I watched the webcast of the 7915th meeting of the UN Security Council in which each member of the council made a statement concerning “The situation in the Middle East (Syria)” as the session was entitled. Watching the representatives and listening to their statements it felt as if we are living in an alternative universe and witnessing another moment in time in which truth, facts and reality never seemed more unattainable.

Two moments among many stood out. The first was the Russian delegate who claimed that the Nobel Peace Prize nominated White Helmets had staged the event implying that we were witnessing actors pretending to die and foam at the mouth. No commentary that I have read or heard so far has, as yet, condemned these words.

The second moment was Nikki Haley, the President of the Council and the US Representative, holding up two graphic photographs that I have blurred for obvious reasons, and asking the Russian representative to look at them. “How many more children have to die before Russia cares” she said. Her words were powerful and worth listening to. At the end of this post I have provided a link to the UN broadcast that I would encourage you to visit when you have the time.

Will there be a resolution to come from this. One doubts it, but we can only hope. Here is the link to the UN Council meeting.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest

I have been struggling how best to respond to this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge from Cheri in which she asks, “what quest means to you.”

Initially I thought, somewhat philosophically, that I would explore trying to represent the quest we all have had at some point in our lives for “the meaning of life,” but this week watching the horror and tragedy in Aleppo becoming more desperate each day, and seeing the heartbreaking images of little children, the same age as my beautiful granddaughter who is fifteen months old today, being pulled from the rubble of their homes, it is clear that the meaning of life had ended for them before it had even had a chance to begin.

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Watching on my laptop one of Jeremy Bowen’s reports from Syria, one image stood out as a metaphor for all the White Helmet volunteer relief workers, first responders and medics who have lost their lives in the name of peace and humanity trying to save these children and families. This ambulance had been pulverized in targeted bombing and on its side are the words HAS YOUR HEART DIED, and hidden behind the pillar I believe the words read ALONG WITH YOUR CHILDREN?

How else to express both outrage and sadness but with pen and brush, ink and paper, as I have done too many times before:

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And so you ask what is my answer to Cheri’s question,”What does quest mean to you?”It is simply that one day those responsible for these war crimes will be held accountable and brought to justice.

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Aleppo 25.9.16

Here is the link to Jeremy Bowen’s report from September 14th:

Syria ceasefire: Aleppo district “pulverized”

Dedicated to five-year-old Rawan Alowsh who was pulled alive by her pony tail from the rubble last Friday and sadly to the memory of her three sisters and one brother, who were all killed in the airstrike together with their father, Mohammad Alowsh, 28, and mother, 30-year-old Kefaeh.