SALAM for the Children of the World

Rasaq Malik Gbolahan, a Nigerian Poet, has honored me by writing two poems for the children of the world and the MY WORLD PROJECT. Please listen to the words and visit the Facebook page and maybe together we can find a way to bring this project to more children around the world.

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SALAM (I)

Salam, they say
whenever a bomb blazes in the sky,
in the streets, in the eyes of a girl
who sleeps in a room filled with the screams
of her mother, filled with terror moving like
wind. Salam, they say whenever houses
become morgues for those who search
for the corpses of their relatives, those
who count the number of corpses left
unclaimed, unburied, opened like a
bud to the sun. Salam, they say whenever
grief gnashes their hearts, whenever fear
dims their eyes, whenever bullets sculpt
holes in the portraits hanging on desolate
walls, whenever they assemble to mourn
those who rot in the dark, those whose
countries become dust. Salam, they say
whenever a woman cradles the corpse
of her only son, whenever blood splatters
on the face of a boy in Nigeria, Iraq, in Paris
in Burundi, in Yemen, in Bangladesh.
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SALAM (II)

Every day they search for light
in the remains of their countries.
in the bodies wrapped with rags
disposed like waste, ferried to where
their relatives ask how and why a body
becomes an object, a mere name, another
synonym for trash, a symbol of how war
litters the earth with wrecks. Every day
they walk the streets to where a boy carries
a placard that bears the names of his parents,
his elder sisters–raped, battered, left to bleed
to death. Every day the world fades into the darkness
that war births, in the turbulence of missiles, in the
sound of a bullet that leads them to where blood clots
dust, to where silence tunes their ears to the cries
of people dying in far away countries. Every day
they remember their dead beloveds, their families
at refugee camps, people buried beneath stones,
covered with leaves. Every day they say, Salam.

 

DOORS AT THE END OF THE WORLD

This is my last day of a thirty-four day trip to Morocco, twenty-five days of which were spent in the Sahara Desert. I’m now back where I started, in Marrakech, in the Riad Dar El Aila, and it feels a bit like coming home. Hello, you’re back! they greet me, as if I have survived some incredible undertaking. And, yes, I have been through the fire and come out a wiser and more enriched person for it. That’s how life is, a series of adventures that, when looked back upon, grow into the essence of who we are continually becoming.

While in Fez, a couple days ago, my friend Lux (who survived the desert experience with me, more on that later),  and I made sure to walk through Bab Boushloud, the “Blue Gate.” This was where I walked as a ten year old, filled with wonder at this mystical city, wandering the Medina with my sister, looking for magic bottles with genies in them. All part of my childhood memoir, INTO THE WORLD.

Lux and I went to Volubilis, the Roman outpost that must have seemed to those stationed there to be at the end of the world. A rough place where a person might be forgotten in disgrace or be determined to rise up and use it as a stepping-stone to something better. Sort of like people who stop off in Las Vegas to work, their goal being to get to Los Angeles, and somehow, they never make it out of the desert.

I found it to be a place of majestic nostalgia. Everywhere, there were doors and, depending on how you perceive them, they could be leading to another reality or to nowhere. Doors at the end of the world…and the beginning of another.

MY WORLD IN THE SAHARA

I spent the month of December in village Tissardmine, in the Sahara Desert, Morocco. I was there on a mission, to work on the last draft of Book of Angels, #2 in the NIGHT ANGELS CHRONICLES, and to conduct the MY WORLD PROJECT with kids in the village.

First, I had to figure out how to work with the kids. I started by going out in the afternoons, drumming with them on the dunes, making friends–they were so delightful, so excited and happy. I visited their one-room school up on a hill, overlooking the village and spoke with the two teachers, Hafid and Habib, who I found to be dedicated and supportive,. They invited me to do the project at the school. I discovered that the kids in the school come from three different villages and travel up to 6 miles one way, six mornings a week. The school provides them with lunch  before they journey home.

I started by sharing the art and writing of the kids we had worked with on the Hoopa Reservation in Northern California and in Amazonian Ecuador. I asked the Tissardmine kids, if there was one word they could share with the kids around the world, what would it be? Overwhelmingly, that word was Salam, or Peace. This is the word that everyone in Islamic countries uses to greet each other. They made a booklet, each child drawing a word that was important to them.

 

 

Here are some of the awesome kids in Village Tissardmine, in collaboration with Café Tissardmine, an artists residency program, I brought this project to the kids in the school. They are sharing what is most important about their world with kids in the Hoopa Tribe in Northern California, the Moretecocha children in Ecuador and kids imn Los Angeles. Their word they want to share is Salam, which means Peace. This is a good word for this Holiday Season and for always. In the Islamic countries this is the word people always greet one another with and I can’t think of a better way to say hello!

INTO THE WORLD

INTO THE WORLD nonfiction winner

WINNER of the 2015 New Millennium Writings Nonfiction Award. So meaningful to me as I am here in Morocco right now, in the part of the world I love the most. Here is the direct link to INTO THE WORLD, the excerpt from my childhood memoir called “Reflections from Istanbul,” which I mostly wrote in Istanbul last summer. It is my discovery of the meaning of faith, during my family’s escape out of Egypt right before the 6-Day War and how those experiences relate to what is happening in the world today.