عدد المساهمات : 37365
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
|موضوع: Miles of murals for peace الجمعة 24 سبتمبر 2010, 11:58 pm|| |
Miles of murals for peace
Art Miles began with a humble aim to offer an empty canvas to children and adults of the world in an effort to promote peace and harmony through mural art. Thirteen years on, the organisation has coordinated over 4,000 murals created by over half a million people from more than 100 countries. This mammoth celebration was launched this week in Egypt to mark the International Day of Peace.
The murals have 12 specific themes -- multicultural diversity, environment, sports, music, women, senior, celebrity, fairy tale, peace, unity and healing, mentor, and indigenous peoples. Each of these murals created over 13 years measures 12 feet by five feet. By the end of the year, the group plans to have all the murals assembled into a massive "Muramid" that consists of digitised murals to form a skin for a pyramid structure that will float down the River Nile, designed by Tarek Naga, senior architect for the restructuring of the Giza Plateau.
"We dreamt that art was a language that could cross all barriers, that perhaps even the hardest of hearts would understand how a picture is worth more than a thousand words," said Joanne Tawfilis, who along with husband Fouad, are the founders of the Art Miles Project.
The Art Miles Project began in 1997 in Bosnia when Joanne worked with orphans in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina "on a bullet-riddled bedsheet where 350 orphans painted the first mural after five days of discussion, crying, grieving and building consensus."
Since then the Tawfilis have travelled the world and have done murals with people from the four corners of the globe, from tribes in remote areas to displaced peoples to survivors of natural and human disasters. Through countless volunteers they have organised groups to coordinate and create murals abroad including in war-torn areas and have provided much of the art materials themselves.
The Iraqi Children's Art Exchange (ICAE) coordinated the Iraq Art Mile partnering with three Iraqi artists to create a series of murals painted by Iraqi and American children and youth with the working title: How Will They Know Us?
"The murals were an opportunity for youth on both 'sides' of the huge cultural, political and language divide to tell the 'others' who they were," said Claudia Lefko, founder and director of ICAE. "All the painters and collaborating artists felt very inspired, and moved to be part of this worldwide expression of peace and non-violence in the world."
Through the International Education and Research Network (iEarn) and coordinator Manal Fitiani, Palestinian children from schools in East Jerusalem have created powerful murals about Jerusalem. "They drew through different eyes; one as a religious ancient holy land, others as a peaceful land, and in other murals as a mother who carries all the pains, dreams and tears," said Fitiani.
A mural called "Palestinian woman" was created by students and their art teacher at Al-Quds Preparatory school for girls in the Old City, Jerusalem. Fitiani said the students from the school come from large families who live in small homes inside the wall of the Old City so that they can retain their Jerusalem ID. She said these families face severe social and economic hardships. The mural depicts life inside the wall that surrounds their city and is painted with symbols of their culture and dreams.
Disabled students in special education schools also contributed to several murals, most about the environment, peace, and other themes. In many instances, the mural projects have served as a source of expression and healing.
"I found the mural art project to be very important for our children to express their feelings and their dreams. This is a big chance to get others to know and understand their suffering and send a peaceful message to other children in the world," said Fitiani. "This piece of art carries in its lines and colours lots of symbols, and messages to the world. Art is an international language that all people can understand and feel."
Murals were also created throughout the US, including murals by Iraqi refugees in Troy, New York and a peace mural by the Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition in Carlsbad, California.Students at Van R Butler Elementary in Santa Rosa, Florida have completed 13 murals in the past three years for Art Miles. They have worked as partners creating murals through the International Intercultural Mural Exchange for the past two years.
"We have completed paintings with children from Japan and Abu Dhabi. The themes for the painting were peace, culture and compassion," said art teacher Constance Rogers. "If our children realise how similar our feelings and lives are, how can we not learn to see we are all part of one big global family?"
The Tawfilis say the Art Miles Project is really about building bridges of friendship and understanding between people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. A strong focus is on mural participation by children of the world. Joanne calls the murals "peace building with children" and said the collection of over 4,000 murals "is a monumental visual piece of history in the making by those concerned about issues involving environment, women and children's rights, and other social issues plaguing our planet."
Fauzia Minallah, director of Funkor Childart Centre in Islamabad, has done several murals with Art Miles. "Some of them are very special, for example, the mural that was painted in the shanty town of Islamabad and displayed at the 'Concert of Hope' in New York," said Minallah. "And now recently the one started by Pakistani children and finished by Austrian children through the Art Mile Austria coordinator Maria Bader who after this connection raised funds for the flood victims of Pakistan. Art Miles Mural Project is a beautiful project that gives 'hope' in these dark times."
Minallah and her students also worked on a joint mural between Pakistani and Italian children that was started in Islamabad and completed by Italian students at the Albornoz's Fortress of Narni, Italy. Guiseppe Fortunati, an Italian computer teacher, coordinated the event in the city of Narni. The town of Narni inspired CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia and is a theme depicted in many of the murals created by his students.
"We like creating Art Miles projects and many students in Narni, Italy and in many others schools have the opportunity to work together and also through the Internet to create murals and peace canvases," said Fortunati, who has also done a mural exchange with students in Japan.
Joanne, a retired United Nations executive, was chosen out of 3,000 by Oprah Winfrey to be one of "80 Leaders that Can Change the World". Her tireless work is an inspiration to the many lives she has touched in her travels. Through the Tawfilis's passion, the Art Miles Murals Project has connected millions worldwide and has become the artistic symbol of peace they had envisioned 13 years earlier.
"I am in awe of Joanne and Fouad and their commitment to bring peace through art to all the children in the world," said Marci Brewster, a teacher at West Jefferson Middle School in Conifer, Colorado, whose school contributed three murals. "When you start to see how global this all really is and the music, art, and stories that are told, then one is truly inspired."
By Anayat Durrani gasps in awe and writes in Al-Ahram.
Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz 0 comments Iraqi children lack birth certificates
Legal experts say there may be thousands of Iraqi children who can't go to school or hold a government job because their births weren't recorded.Children who lack birth certificates, passports or national identification cards are products of a time when al-Qaida in Iraq controlled large swaths of the country following the U.S.-led invasion, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Ahmed Jassim, director of an organization working to improve the lives of undocumented children, said many are the result of forced marriages between insurgents and local women.Jassim said he has identified at least 125 families in Diyala province alone whose children lack birth certificates.He said many of the women don't know the real identities of their absent husbands and fear retribution if they fight for their children's rights."Helping them could encourage al-Qaida in Iraq," a government ministry official told the Post.
This story was first published by UPI News.
Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz 0 comments Iraqi Children pay for their fathers
IN BAQUBAH, IRAQ Zahraa is a rambunctious toddler. She still sucks on a pacifier, and her mother dresses her in pink. But according to the government, she does not exist.
The daughter of an al-Qaeda in Iraq militant who forced her mother into marriage and motherhood, then disappeared, Zahraa is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children whose births amid the anarchy and insurgent violence of Iraq were never legally recorded.
Without the paperwork to prove that she is the child of an Iraqi man and that her parents were joined in a legitimate marriage before her birth, Zahraa and others like her have no rights as Iraqi citizens, legal experts say. They do not have birth certificates, passports or national identification cards and will be unable to go to school or hold a government job.
These children, a little-noticed legacy of more than seven years of war, are paying for the sins of their fathers."It's dangerous because in the future they might hurt the society that hurt them," said Ahmed Jassim, director of the Nour Foundation, a nongovernmental organization working to improve the lives of the militants' offspring in the northeastern Iraqi province of Diyala.
The children are products of a time when al-Qaeda in Iraq controlled large swaths of the nation after the U.S.-led invasion. The legal system broke down, institutions stopped functioning and an insurgency raged. Some Sunni Muslim communities gave sanctuary to the men, Iraqi and foreign Arabs, believing they would help rid them of a foreign army. But al-Qaeda in Iraq quickly grew brutal, overpowered other Iraqi insurgent groups, declared an Islamic state and enforced a severe form of Islamic law.
Communities slowly turned on the group, and the men of al-Qaeda in Iraq were jailed or killed, or are lurking in the shadows. The undocumented children they left behind are now between 1 and 4 years old.
Jassim has identified at least 125 families in Diyala province alone with children from forced al-Qaeda in Iraq marriages. Many of the women don't know the real identities of their absent husbands and fear that if they fight for the rights of their children, they and the men of their families will be scorned or jailed for a connection to the outlawed organization.
The country's political void has not helped. More than six months after the national parliamentary elections, a government has yet to be formed. Many of the women are Sunni Arabs and worry that a Shiite-led government would lack sympathy and consider them accomplices in the crimes of their missing husbands.Officials in the Interior Ministry tasked with assisting victims of the Iraq war said the women are not considered victims of rape and, although the situation is unfortunate, there is nothing they can do.
"Helping them could encourage al-Qaeda in Iraq," said Fadhil al-Shweilli, a ministry official who deals with victims of war.Legal experts said the easiest solution would be to give the children to orphanages or forge their birth certificates with the name of a fake father.Naheda Zaid Manhal, a parliament member from the largely Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition, said she will fight on behalf of the children once the government is formed."These children are guilty of nothing," she said.
This account of Zahraa's birth and life is based on interviews with her mother - who goes by Umm Zahraa - her grandmother and other relatives, but it could not be independently verified and they would not allow their full names to be used for fear of repercussions. In addition to their legal problems, mothers such as Umm Zahraa say they feel ostracized in a culture that sees out-of-wedlock births as taboo.
One night in summer 2008, six militants from al-Qaeda in Iraq burst into Umm Zahraa's home in Buhroz, just outside Baqubah. Shiite Arabs had already been forced out of the neighborhood or killed by al-Qaeda in Iraq during Iraq's civil war from 2005 through 2007. Residents were too scared to turn against al-Qaeda in Iraq, despite its waning influence in other areas of the country.
A man who identified himself only as Abu Zahraa - father of Zahraa - and the others told Umm Zahraa's brother he had three choices: join them, be killed or give them his mother, Umm Hassan, and his younger sister, then a striking 18-year-old with dark eyes.
The women relented and the marriages were performed by one of the armed men, though no marriage contract was signed. Abu Zahraa then forced the teenager to have sex, and for the next three months, he and the others would arrive late at night, the women said. They always left before sunrise. Umm Zahraa's husband never gave his real name, the family said. Umm Zahraa says she never saw the face of the man who stole her virginity.
"I hate him. He took the dearest thing in a woman's life," she said.
When she became pregnant, the young woman considered aborting the baby or killing herself. But she believes in God, she said, and Islam sanctions neither act. By the time she gave birth, the baby's father had been gone for months, having disappeared without a trace.But she named her daughter Zahraa, in case he returned.Now Umm Zahraa's family lives in Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province.
They told their new neighbors that the baby was an orphan they had taken into their home. But Umm Zahraa knows the neighbors whisper about her and wonder why Zahraa calls her "Mama.''Umm Zahraa will not go to court to pursue the rights of her child, now 11/2 years old. She worries that people will fault her for the marriage and the child that resulted, she said.
The family can't afford the $100 to $300 for a forged birth certificate with a fake father's name. With her husband killed, Umm Hassan, Zahraa's grandmother, volunteers at a local hospital and lives off tips. When she gets tips, they eat, but when she doesn't, they don't. Around her is the evidence of a life in poverty: pink cracked walls, no furniture, a son in jail, accused of kidnapping. Despite her meager earnings, Umm Hassan hopes to save enough to bribe the midwife and buy Zahraa a forged birth certificate.
For now, Umm Zahraa does not leave the house. At 20, she bears the burden of someone much older, her face drawn with sadness. She is conflicted about her past, abused by the father of her child and guilt-ridden because she could not stop him.Every day she searches her daughter's face and wonders whether the features come from the child's father. She wonders whether her daughter will ever have a chance here."No one will understand," Umm Zahraa said. "No one will say I'm a victim."
Published by the Washington Post with Special correspondents Jinan Hussein and Hassan Shimmari contributed to this report.
Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz 0 comments Iraq: Poverty and unemployment
Iraqi families that fled north have to endure unemployment, poverty, lack of basic services, shortages of food and fuel and poor prospects. Many of them are Christian from Baghdad and Mosul and found refuge in Zakho District, Dohuk Governatorate (Iraqi Kurdistan). After years, their living conditions have not improved. Ankawa.com recently published a report on their dramatic situation.
Unemployment remains the main problem. The main breadwinners have had to seek work in Baghdad or nearby Erbil. Children have had to quit schools unable to study in Kurdish, a language they do not know. Those can study often do not have the money to buy school material, which is expensive given the wages of average families. Joblessness is closely related to the fact that when work is available, it is in the farming sector, whilst most migrants come from cities and do not have the necessary experience to work on farms.
In practical terms, survival depends on aid provided by humanitarian organisations operating in the area and the Church. Representatives of the local Christian community are able to provide families with US$ 50 a month, which is inadequate to help even the smallest of families.
Food prices are rising because of the lack of control by the authorities. Many families get food rations provided by the government but only in their place of origin. However, travelling to Baghdad, Basra or Mosul to get them means paying for high transportation costs and especially take risks given the insecurity that prevails in those areas.
Food is not the only thing in short supply. Getting fuel and basic services is also an uphill battle. The Kurdish government provides free medical coverage as well as water and electricity but all other public services are in a poor state. Roads are rundown or in ruin. Villages and towns are unclean. All this contributes to disease and epidemics. Adequate housing is also in scarce supply for those who fled the cities in the past six years. Many are forced to live in convents or parish buildings, two or three families per room.
With families going through their savings, poverty is widespread. For young people, the future at home is bleak, given the country’s instability and deadlocked political situation. Emigration, legal or not, is seen by many as the only hope, but the lack of means makes it hard to do.
Frustration and depression are widespread, closely linked to the realisation that everything has been lost. Families from Baghdad’s Dora neighbourhood say they left their homes into the care of neighbours, but armed gangs have seized them by force. Similarly, women have been forced to wear the veil and Christian residents now have to pay the Jizya, the poll tax for non-Muslims.