Children Against War activist
trip to Jordan
to help Iraqi child refugees speak out for peace
3 August update
We are very happy to report that in the space
of just a few days, due to your generosity, JNV has raised over
£2000 in pledges for the Children Against War delegation
This means that Sonia will be able to purchase
her tickets today, and that, when the pledges arrive, she will
be able to take over £500 in your donations to support Iraqi
refugee families now living in Jordan in desperate circumstances.
If you would like to increase this amount,
please do continue sending cheques/ transferring money to Justice
Not Vengeance - see below for details. (If it is helpful, the
JNV account is categorized as a 'BusinessInvestor' account at
Sonia will not be departing (with her adult
companion) before 14 August, so pledges can be registered
with us until then (though please post cheques at least two
days before this!).
In Jordan, Sonia will be guided by the very
wonderful Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kathy's
latest article is on the
Thank you for all your support for the Children
delegation. It is much appreciated.
Maya Anne Evans
Justice Not Vengeance
An appeal for support
1) Sonia's appeal
2) How to help
3) Sonia's article in Peace News (July-August)
4) Kathy Kelly's article from Jordan (24 July)
For the past five years we have been privileged
to support and assist an extraordinary young peace activist by
the name of Sonia,
who formed Children Against The War at the age of 7. Two of us,
as editors of Peace News, feel very fortunate to have Sonia as
the editor of the PN Youth Page.
Yesterday Justice Not Vengeance and Voices
in the Wilderness UK received the following appeal from Sonia,
who is now 12, asking for our support for another Children Against
The War initiative, which we think is very exciting.
Please read Sonia's appeal, and read on to
discover how you can support her. (We are trying to raise £808.)
Please do also forward this appeal to whoever
you think might be inspired by Sonia's example.
Maya Anne Evans
Justice Not Vengeance
1) SONIA'S APPEAL
My name is Sonia, I am 12 years old.
At the age of 7 I founded Children Against
the War; I have organised many demos and vigils regarding the
war in Iraq and especially how it was destroying my generations
I have written to Mr Blair and Mr Bush many
times. I have organised candle light vigils on my birthday and
other days to remember children who are suffering and those who
have been killed because of the war in Iraq.
When I was ten, I was invited to go to New York. I spoke at the
demonstration at Colombia University. I interviewed the students
and a proffesor who attended, the demonstration was about ending
I was also invited by War Resisters League
as a main guest speaker at a one day workshop called Peace Training
for Kids. During this trip, I made a film called Speaking Out
for Peace in New York, which included interviews.
At the moment I am campaigning for the Iraqi children living in
Jordan, and neighbouring Countries as refugees.I have written
and delivered a speech about this, it has been published in Peace
News [see below].
I would like to go to Jordan, to make a documentary - giving voice
to Iraqi children, I feel very strongly that Iraqi children should
be allowed to speak out.
I feel Iraqi children have a right to tell
children of Great Britian and United States what's happening to
My Family funded for my trip to New York and to make a film about
Speaking for Peace. They can't afford to fund me to go to Jordan.
I feel this is a very important project.
I am appealing for your help, could you please donate money towards
2) HOW TO HELP
Sonia will be guided in Amman by her friend
Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, who is in Jordan
for the summer, supporting Iraqi refugees.
The outcome of the trip will be a video edited
by Sonia (she has experience in this and will have adult assistance),
which will be printed to DVD and distributed by Justice Not Vengeance.
We think this initiative can be a real inspiration
to young people and adults in the anti-war movement around the
If you agree with us, please give as generously
as you can to enable Sonia to make this trip, and send us any
ideas you may have about how to spread the message of Sonia's
Please make cheques out to "Justice
Not Vengeance" - and marked 'Children against war' on the
back - and send to us at 29 Gensing Road, St Leonards on Sea,
East Sussex TN38 0HE.
If you prefer to transfer money electronically,
please send your donation to:
Justice Not Vengeance,
Nationwide Building Society,
40 London Road,
Sort code 07-00-55
In either case, we would be very grateful
if you could notify us of
the amount you are pledging, so that we don't have to wait for
the post to let Sonia know how her appeal is doing, or get your
donation mixed up with a general JNV donation.
Any excess will be donated to relief for
Iraqi refugee families in Jordan.
Fundraising target £808
Sonia has consulted with Kathy Kelly and
phoned Royal Jordanian Airlines, and the budget for the trip breaks
down as follows:
Flight for Sonia: £546 (including insurance
Flight for Sonia's adult companion: £546 (including insurance
Double hotel room for three nights: £36
Food, travel, telephone in Amman: £80
Extra camcorder battery, tripod and miniDV tapes: £100
Total cost: £1308 pounds
We have already received a pledge of £500,
leaving us to raise £808 - ideally by Friday 3 August.
In order to fit in with Sonia's school holidays,
and to give time for editing her footage, Sonia intends to be
in Jordan 16-19 August, and should book her ticket this weekend
in order to be sure of getting the seats she needs.
3) SONIA'S ARTICLE IN PEACE NEWS
This is the speech Sonia gave at an interfaith
event in London in June, which was published in the last issue
of Peace News:
My name is Sonia, I am 12 years old and I
am a Muslim. 5 years ago I formed a group called Children Against
the War. When I was eight years old, I wrote a letter to Mr Bush
and Mr Blair pleading for them not to start a war in Iraq because
it would destroy Children' lives.
Today I feel angry and sad because the war
has caused nothing but misery for Iraqi children. Thousands and
thousands of children have lost their lives; Thousands have fled
to neighbouring countries with their families and are homeless.
These children can't go to school, don't
have toys to play with and do not feel safe.
Children have a right to feel safe and to
I would like to quote President John Kennedy:
'Our problems are man-made; therefore they may be solved by man.
No Problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.'
Today I would like to ask Mr Bush and Mr
Blair to help the Iraqi children and their families living as
refugees in Jordan and Syria.
Children Against the War are campaigning
for the Iraqi children.
Adults please support children against the war.
4) "Attuned to Tom and Jerry" by Kathy Kelly
July 24, 2007
Last week, Umm Daoud, (her name means "Mother
of Daoud"), met me and three friends at a bridge that crosses
into her neighborhood. It was just after sundown; the streets
were darkening as she guided us toward the narrow path which leads
to her home. She and her five children live in a humble two room
apartment in a crowded "low-rent" area of Amman.
As guests, my friends and I sat on a makeshift
piece of furniture, an old door placed atop two crates and covered
by a thin mat. She and her children sat on the floor. Apart from
a television and a small table, the living room had no other furniture.
The television remained "on" while Samil, her youngest
son, seemed completely absorbed in a "Tom and Jerry"
"Tom and Jerry" antics are a favorite
in almost every home I visit here. Spanning multiple generations
and regions, the duo's popularity seems to reflect benign values.
"Sometimes Tom wins and sometimes Jerry, and sometimes they
both win, especially if they team up against an enemy," a
young Iraqi woman told me. "You love them both. It's a bit
like fights between brothers and sisters."
Incalculably less benign are the "real
life" chase scenes Umm Daoud's family has endured. When I
first met them, five months ago, Abu Daoud, the father, told me
that he had been a prosperous goldsmith in Baghdad. "We had
two houses and two cars," said Umm Daoud. "Now, I have
two brothers killed, and all this suffering, and no way to take
care of my children."
Abu Daoud told us that two years ago, Daoud,
his teenage eldest child, was kidnapped for ransom in Baghdad.
Fearful for their son's life and wanting to save him from torture,
the family sold all that they had, gained his release, and swiftly
escaped with him into Jordan.
Abu Daoud came to Amman and moved his family
into their current home, hopeful that he might eventually find
work. But for an "illegal" resident in Jordan, among
hundreds of thousands of others who've fled Iraq, there was no
He sought help from the few groups doling
out rations of food and assistance with rent. Young boys would
taunt him, calling him an old man and an "Iraqi terrorist",
while adults would threaten to report him to the authorities as
an "illegal" - but still he had to keep seeking work.
Three months ago, Abu Daoud learned that his cousin, in Iraq,
had received a death threat. The cousin tried to flee Baghdad,
but was unable to do so swiftly enough. When his body was found,
it was chopped into pieces. This news further traumatized Abu
Engulfed by pain and misery, he became abusive
toward his wife and children. Fights erupted between them. Two
months ago, Abu Daoud disappeared. His wife believes he fled because
he couldn't bear facing them, each day, with his feelings of anxiety
Umm Daoud's eyes fill with smoldering fury
as she spills out feelings of frustration, mistrust, and humiliation.
Neighbors in adjoining homes practice a very
conservative form of Islam. Even though Umm Daoud is a Sabean,
she fears being judged harshly by them and opts to cover her head
whenever she leaves the house. When her husband left her, some
of these neighbors said this was a punishment she deserved. She'd
like to live elsewhere, beyond their threats and curses, but she
can't afford the rent anywhere else.
Two of the daughters are diabetic, needing
weekly insulin injections, but Umm Daoud can afford neither the
medicine nor the lab work to track their illness. Now, one of
her daughter's eyesight is failing. Untreated insulin can lead
to full blindness. Umm Daoud has to hide all of this from her
They may be here for a long time, and if
the neighbors find out that the girls are diabetic, she fears
it could destroy their future. Would it be difficult to find suitors
for them? I'm not sure. Looking at these beautiful young women,
it seems unlikely, but blindness is a frightening condition, --who
am I to guess?
Umm Daoud herself needs medical attention
for a kidney ailment, but her daughters' untreated medical crisis
takes up all her attention.
Caritas, a charity organization in Amman,
offers free medical checkups for Iraqis, but no medications.
Through registering with the UNHCR, the family
became eligible for a "salary" of 60 Jordanian Dinar
per month. This barely covers rent. A light fixture in the room
where they all sleep is broken, but they can't afford to fix it,
nor can they manage a simple plumbing job to repair a faucet that
steadily, noisily leaks.
They are too terrified to invite a repair
man into the home because the daughters are vulnerable and could
be exploited. If a man took advantage of them, they would have
no recourse for protection because anyone could accuse them of
being illegal residents, causing them to be deported back to Iraq.
Umm Daoud has already been stung by the humiliation
of being so vulnerable. Once, in Amman, a gang stole a sum of
money from her. She reported it to the police. In the investigation,
someone accused her of being a prostitute and the police department
dropped the case.
One note of good news gladdened Umm Daoud and her daughters. Daoud,
the older son, excels in soccer and recently qualified for an
Iraqi team invited to compete in Seoul, South Korea.
For Daoud, a victim of torture when he was
kidnapped, playing soccer has been part of recovery. He's in control
on the field and the sport has been an important form of therapy.
Numerous Iraqis in the "illegal" community pooled money
for Daoud's trip.
Toward the end of our visit, Daoud called
from Seoul. The family was jubilant, except for little Samil,
watching his Tom and Jerry cartoon with his back turned to the
family. From where I sat, I could see his face. He showed no emotion
whatsoever and never took his eyes off the TV screen.
I remembered the playful ten-year old I'd
first met, in January of 2007, a little boy whose eyes were alight
and animated, who loved climbing onto his father's lap. The family
seems to understand his need to withdraw.
Before leaving, Noah Merrill, who, with his
wife, Natalie, has worked hard to design a project called "Direct
Aid Initiative," (see www.electroniciraq.net), suggested
that they could help cover some of the family's medical expenses.
He assured Umm Daoud that this would be an
act of friendship, not charity. "Of course it's not charity!"
she said, flinging her hands upward in exasperation. "You
already have our oil!" She cocked her head slightly, a smile
on her face. "You are perhaps living well with our oil,"
she said, as we all nodded our heads, "so this is not a charity."
Such humor, as if this whole nightmare of
the war and its complications were just brothers and sisters fighting,
and she could wryly forgive.
The UNHCR has appealed for $121 million dollars
to assist Iraqis who've been displaced from their homes, 2.2 million
of whom are internally displaced inside Iraq and close to two
million more who have sought shelter in neighboring countries.
UN documents appeal to people's charitable instincts, but UN workers
know full well just how politicized the discussions have become.
The U.S. could direct the amount of money
spent on just six hours of the war in Iraq and fully meet the
UNHCR request to assist millions of people who have barely survived
this U.S. "war of choice."
This week, the U.S. government will continue
deliberating over how much money to earmark for particular defense
expenditures. They will serve the insatiable demands of the largest
lobby on Capitol Hill, the defense lobby, which is asking for
a total of $648.8 billion dollars.
Even Senator Kennedy, one of the few Senators
advocating measures to benefit Iraqi refugees, recommends allotting
$100 million in the 2008 defense budget for a new General Electric
fighter engine. (The Boston Globe recently reported that the Air
Force said it didn't even need the item.)
Democratic candidates claim they are interested
in ending the Iraq war. They claim concern for Iraqi victims.
I believe these claims. Yet by obediently funding the war machine,
most of them play predictable, scripted roles in a dull and murderous
war without end.
The victors are always the same, the bloated
and menacing producers of weapons, - General Dynamics, Boeing,
Raytheon, Lockheed, General Electric, - the fat cats whose menacing
force always wins. The losers can watch their children become
crippled, starved, maimed or dead. Period.
Yesterday, Umm Daoud and her daughters paid
me a visit. Samil chose to stay behind. He didn't want to miss
an episode of Tom and Jerry.
is a co-coordinator of Voices for