My husband came into the room while I was still sleeping on the morning of the attack and told me of a deadly attack in Paris. In my half state of sleep I blocked the news out. I didn’t want to take in another pain. My body wasn’t ready to grieve.
I slept on hoping I would wake up, and it would all have been a mistake or a dream. I woke up and refused to watch the news or go onto social media. I didn’t want what I thought I heard my husband say to be true. I lived in cowardly denial.
I finally put on my phone which I had switched off, and I then had a call from a friend. They said, “Yes, there has been an attack. And, yes, many died!” “Oh God!”, I cried out.
“Has anyone claimed responsibility?”, I asked fearfully. “ISIS.”, my friend told me. “Not again,” I groaned.
To lose a loved one so brutally is horror. To know that somebody somewhere decided to kill your loved one who never offended them and whom they probably had never even seen is painful. An accident, I can understand, but that I can never.
In a month’s time my daughter will be going to France for a ski trip. Will she be looked at differently because of her hijab? My thoughts are that someone in Paris may look at my daughter in her hijab differently from the rest when she is as much victim.
When an attack happens in places like Paris it’s not that their lives are more important, but that the outcry is high even from other countries that have their fair share of terrorism. It’s fear! With all the security in such places? How can this occur?
If these tragic events can happen in places like Paris with their state of the art, high level security then they can wipe us out, here, in Nigeria with our best security. This is what goes through our minds.
It can embolden some to attack with all the copycat crimes going on. We have had so many attacks in recent times. It leaves a palpable fear in the air.
I then saw outrage on social media of people who felt that too much emphasis was placed by the world on the French lives rather than on all lives. I couldn’t find it in me to be outraged. The French cried out to the world and the world joined them in their moment of grief.
When we are attacked in Nigeria a lot of us within Nigeria seem to not care. Even our government. So how would the world cry with us when we have refused to cry for each other?
An attack happened a while ago in which over a 100 were killed it took more than 3 days before there was an official statement from the President condemning the attack. There was outrage from a few of us, and we were attacked by so many for demanding the government acknowledge an attack and death of Nigerians.
With such callousness from our own, how would the world acknowledge our grief?
When the world gets no official statement from Nigerian government, how can they grieve with us when we haven’t even acknowledged that ours were killed?
I am a pragmatic person and would always tell myself the truth no matter how it hurts. I cannot begrudge the French and the world supporting them when we haven’t supported our own. Until we take our lives seriously no one else will, and it would always be painful when my government within hours would commiserate with other countries when they are attacked and refused to acknowledge attack in our own country until days later.
I have been shown I matter by individuals reaching out to me when there is attack from different parts of the world, especially the World Moms Blog family. You would not understand how touching those moments are. It shows I am a member of the human race.
My daughter asked me just yesterday if she would still be going to Paris next month. I told her, “YES!!!” No one will make us live in fear.
Do they have heart? Do they know what it is to lose a loved one? Why do they inflict such on others? What is Islamic about terror? NOTHING!!!
Islam preaches peace. Islam enjoins a right of environment & animals on us. One is not allowed in Islam to cut down a tree.
God said in the Qur’an to kill one human is like killing humanity. We have to unite and let the goodness in us all outshine the few evil ones. Terrorist attack to anyone anywhere in the world is terrorist attack to everyone everywhere in the world.
God rest the souls of the dead and console the families of the departed all over the world. It’s not easy.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor Aisha Yesufu of Nigeria.
…and prevention is protection.
Now-a-days, we hear a lot about violence. Violence at home, bullying at school, harassment at work or on the street. Violence is everywhere. It does not define our societies or who we are but it plays an important role in our evolution and how we decide to define ourselves.
In the past couple of years, the French government put into place important measures to fight all types of violence, creating adds to show its impact on peoples lives, opening more helplines, dedicated centres to welcome the victims, creating new jobs and training programs. Many well-known artists took it over and started campaigns around the country and in the world.
Still, I think something is missing in order, if not to eradicate violence completely, at least to change the vision of men and women on the subject and prevent violence from spreading even more. Before discussing the impact of violence, people first have to be educated on what violence is, how to spot it and how to protect themselves from it.
We tend to think that violence is only physical. Is it something we learn as kids? Or are the other forms of violence too cruel to be true?
I met women who kept telling me that in their case, it was not violence. I met kids who kept telling me that other kids were just laughing at them, no big deal. I met men who kept telling me that if their bosses were that mean towards them, it was maybe because they were not that good.
If people don’t know or understand that the relationship they are in is poison, they won’t be able to get out of it or ask for help. And it will keep destroying them. Ads or campaigns won’t have any impact on their life. They will still think violence is horrible but they will think it has nothing to do with them.
I suppose we have to educate people from a young age. Maybe school is the first place to start, as violence can take root there for many. Teaching kids about respect and differences. Teaching them about what is not allowed, about their body and about the importance of equality. Boys are not better than girls and girls are not better than boys.
But first, we have to teach kids about confidence. In most cases, it’s the lack of confidence that takes people down. Teaching kids that they are important, that they are valued and loved, that they are worth it, beautiful, enough. I think this is crucial and it can change many things in our world these days.
I don’t say that confident people can’t be touched by violence, but they’ll have the resources, the power to face it and say stop to it. Or they’ll know something is wrong in the equation and they’ll be able to talk about it, to raise their voice.
Because, at the end of the day, silence is really the enemy, silence is what allows violence to thrive.
This is an original post from our contributor in France, Marie Kleber.
The image used in this post is attributed to Cyber Magic. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
A year ago, girls, teenagers who wanted an education so they could look forward to a great future, were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria. They were taken away, kidnapped and removed from their family, because they were guilty of having ambitions. All these girls had to defend themselves were books.
What’s left of this horror is parents. Mothers and fathers, grieving for a loss that can never be overcome, hurting from a pain that will never lessen, left to wonder why, and knowing that no answer will ever alleviate their sorrow. Because there is no justification.
A few months ago, Peshawar happened and with it, the world once again, lost its innocence. Over 150 kids massacred, because they were guilty of being the children of their parents. All these kids had to defend themselves were notepads.
What’s left of this horror is parents. Mothers and fathers, grieving for a loss that can never be overcome, hurting from a pain that will never lessen, left to wonder why, and knowing that no answer will alleviate their sorrow. Because there is no justification.
Last week, my home country, France, was the theatre of repeated terrorist attacks. People were massacred because they went to work that day, or decided to do their grocery shopping. A brutal attack, with one side holding weapons, the other pencils.
And the violence continued with news of over 2000 killed in Baga, Nigeria.
What’s left of this horror is parents. Mothers, fathers, grieving for a loss that can never be overcome, hurting from a pain that will never lessen, left to wonder why, and knowing that no answer will ever alleviate their sorrow. Because there is no justification.
Mothers, fathers of this world, our families are being hurt beyond comprehension. Pencils are fighting bombs, words are matched with weapons. These violent attacks are not about gender, race, religion, background, or opinions. They are about pulverizing families. This is a call to unite. We all have a responsibility to do everything in our power to preserve our families and help others do the same.
We are all Chibok girls. We are all Peshawar. We are all Charlie.
How do we, global parents everywhere, teach our children to cherish and preserve their families? How do we unite to show them that violence is never the answer?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Nadege Nicoll. She was born in France but now lives permanently in New Jersey with her family. Nadege also writes a daily blog for moms who need to smile at everyday life. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her website www.nadegenicoll.com.
Image creation by author.
I was channel surfing on the TV yesterday afternoon and I was dumb-struck by the news of the attack on the army school in Peshawar. The latest reports say that almost 150 people were killed, the majority being children.
A mother was lamenting, “This morning my son was in a uniform, now he is in a coffin.”
A student was crying out that his mother, who was a teacher there, was dead.
On another website, I read that children reported how, when they ran out of their classrooms, they could see their friends’ bodies strewn around the school compound. One child reported that two bodies fell on him and then he realized they were his dead friends. Forget violent video games. Somewhere in the world, children were watching and being part of a very violent game, a game they had been caught in unawares, unwittingly, forcefully and in a confused illogical way.
‘Glory be to God,’ a terrorist screamed and gunned down the children who were hiding beneath the benches.
God? I have no words… Did he say “God???”
I generally do not venture into writing controversial topics in Journalism or in the blogging world. I just shy away from anything which would cause any discomfort for another party. But this one really broke my heart… It hits so close to home. I am a mother first. And I feel for all those mothers …
Yesterday night when I was discussing this incident with a friend on the phone, my son overheard it and started asking me a few questions. I changed the topic because I was not prepared to talk about it.
I was not even prepared to talk to my friend about it. Imagine, a mother going through it, living it … It just broke my heart. Was she prepared to not see her child anymore when she was bidding him goodbye in the morning?
This morning, when my son was ready for school, my heart was stuck in my throat. As he got into the car and waved back at me, I imagined what was going on in the hearts of all those mothers who had lost their kids. I imagined all those families who had lost their mothers (who worked as teachers) and I was lost for words or feelings.
I almost wanted to stop him and say, “Do not go to school.” But I waved back enthusiastically reminding him to eat the biscuits because he had not had his breakfast and chastised him for not having completed his glass of milk and let go of my heart out of my body.
And I know I am going to talk to him about it when he comes back home in the evening. I am going to tell him what happened in Peshawar, in our neighboring country.
I wouldn’t even say Pakistan is another country because just a few decades ago, India and Pakistan were the same country. I am going to tell my son that his brothers and sisters living just a few miles away were victims of violence and hatred and vengeance.
I am going to tell him that it is very necessary to be filled with love, to be able to spread love, peace and kindness.
To be filled with happiness, joy and life.
I am going to sow fresh seeds of love into his heart. I am going to teach him again that he has to nurture those seeds of love and allow them to grow into huge trees of love, spreading shade all over humanity.
I am going to tell my son again, how unconditional love is the only solution, and that alone breeds more love.
I am going to tell him he should not hate those perpetrators of crime either, who gunned down his brothers and sisters, but pray they change over too.
Yes, it is a tall order. But I think it is possible. If it is possible to think it, it is possible to do it, it is possible that somewhere in the future this reality manifests.
I feel it in my heart. If all of us World Moms can do this tiny bit to our children today, teach them that love is the only solution for hatred and violence, then the children would believe it too and there might be hope for the next generation.
So, dear mothers, this evening, when your children come home from school, give them all an extra big, tight hug and talk to them about this, and ask them to pledge their solidarity in spreading love and peace.
Today, World Moms, representing all the countries we write from, stand in solidarity and support of all those victims, the families and friends, and share their grief and express their prayers and love.
I conclude with this short nursery rhyme… and might I remind you, as a dear friend reminded me yesterday: there is a wealth of wisdom in Nursery Rhymes, even for adults.
This little light of mine,
I am going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Everywhere I go,
I am going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Deep within my heart,
I am going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
All around my friends,
I am going to let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
This is an original post from our World Mom and Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan on the occasion of the “#DayOfTheGirl Child.”
Her contributions to the World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog.
Photo credit to the author’s friend, Mahalakshmi.
As World Moms, the school massacre in Peshawar, Pakistan is not just “their” issue, it’s our issue too.
We are shaken to the core. December is supposed to be a month filled with hope, joy, peace and love. It is a month of holidays, coming together and sharing our gifts. Yet in 2012 we were faced with the horror of 36 killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, a tragedy we hoped would not repeat in our lifetimes. In April, the kidnapping of 276 school girls in Chibok, Nigeria. And just yesterday, 145, mostly school children, killed in the #PeshawarAttack.
In this special report, we bring you the voices of moms from around the world as they weigh in on this very personal issue:
World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden (USA): What are we going to do about this? What is it going to take? Where are the girls from Chibok? Where are the children who died in Peshawar? How can anybody join an ideology that is violent to children? The good in the world far outweighs the bad in the world. I keep telling myself that. And I believe that. How do we unbrainwash those who are using religion for bad? Why is religion in the wrong hands so dangerous? Yet, in the right hands can be so positive? I have a lot of unanswered questions after reading the sad news from Peshawar.
Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrisnan (INDIA): I was channel surfing on the TV yesterday afternoon and was dumb-struck by the news of the attack on the army school in Peshawar. The latest reportssay that almost 150 people were killed, the majority being children. One news channel says that a teacher was burnt aliveand the students were made to watch it. A few of them were beheaded and the rest watched the horror. Forget worrying about your child watching PG or Adult Rated Content on the TV. Some child across the world is watching it live, unable to grasp the tangible reality of hatred and violence.
Managing Editor, Kyla P’an (USA): I am heartsick over this tragedy. As a journalist, I typically share current events with my kids (8 & 5) and have real-world conversations with them about what’s happening globally. I simply cannot let them know about one more school tragedy. School should be a safe place. A place to be around their peers, adults who care and nurture them and a thriving environment to learn. This tragedy is beyond my maternal processing capabilities. A little piece of every mom is chipped away every time an atrocity happens to anyone’s child.
World Voice Editor, Elizabeth Atalay (USA): The attack in Peshawar yesterday was a horrific act of barbaric cowardice. As a mother it sickens me to the core, and I know that today mothers around the world are in mourning for those innocent lives lost. My heart cries for the families of the lives taken yesterday in this senseless act of violence against children. Innocent children at school. I just can’t even fully express the despair the thought of it brings.
Contributor, Maureen H. (INDONESIA): It is so difficult to process such a horrible news. I cried and as a mom I cannot imagine the kind of grief and pain these parents have to go through. How do they move forward? How do they find peace? Is that even possible? It is every parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child but to have them taken away with such cruelty? I am in tears writing this.
Copy Editor, Elizabeth M. (USA): Devastating. Memories of Sandy Hook. I went to the Facebook page of my friend who had lived and worked in Pakistan for many years and saw pictures of families gathering in the parks in protest… candles… calls for solidarity. But I also feel incredibly helpless. So much intake of such bad news lately. I have a very concrete need to DO something or else I will have to tune out completely. And I suppose it’s the mundane work of peace building in my home and community, but it feels incredibly insignificant.
Contributor, Martine de Luna (PHILIPPINES): This is all very difficult to hear. I just found out a couple of hours ago, and being pregnant right now, I am rather emotional about it. Angry, mostly; hurting and crying for the mothers and fathers of the children. There is absolutely NO justification, no cause that warrants the murder of innocent children!!! It enrages me to think such evil exists in this world. We are used to hearing about war and strife, but every time innocent children are brutalized like this, it’s like I am paralyzed by grief and anger, the kind of anger only a mother would understand, the kind that stems from something unjustly stolen from you and there was nothing you could do about it.
Contributor, Karyn Vanderzwet (NEW ZEALAND): I don’t watch much “news”….. haven’t for a long time. Yet, still I heard.
I’m over hearing that children have been killed in cold blood.
I’m over feeling like my heart’s been ripped out… that, there but the Grace of God go I.
I’m over having my mother love stomped on, as if it means nothing.
Every death is painful.
Every child lost breaks my heart.
How can those mothers stand it?
How did mothers, at any time, stand it?
Contributor, Sophia J. (USA): Having just given birth the doctor asks me if I have any feelings of depression, presumably because of the birth. Well I am not depressed, but I am so saddened by what is going on in the world. I try not to be depressed by it. When you specifically start thinking about what injustices and torturous things children go through, then it becomes even harder to stay positive and happy; even if you do believe in God. Because even with a belief in a creator, you wonder why is it the children have to go through such experiences as kidnappings at school, beatings when still infants, torture by the nanny, raped by teachers and priests, and death by extremists who abhor freedom in education. Why? It’s a lot to take from a distance, I cannot begin to imagine what people in these areas are feeling! Let alone the parents….and the children….who are supposed to assume school is a safe place to be. I don’t exactly know what to say, but I feel this is a problem that comes from people’s take on religion, as well as behaviors that are accepted by the majority.
Contributor, Aisha Yesufu (NIGERIA): As an advocate and activist for #BringBackOurGirls in Chibok, Nigeria, Aisha says she is devastated by this news.
Contributor, Nadege Nicoll (USA): I am horrified for so many reasons. Firstly, by how anyone with half an ounce of human cell in them could bring themselves to commit such a senseless, heinous crime. Secondly, by the sheer injustice in this world. In the name of what can this ever be just? Finally, by the disappointment I am afraid will follow: because, as much as I want to believe that this is going to change something for the better, I don’t think it will. In the US, kids in an elementary school got shot at point blank, but following the outrage and shcok, NOTHING has changed. And that is a chilling fact. Finally, I am crying for the innocent kids who lost their lives. As a mother, nothing could be more horrifying. I am crying for the survivors who lived this attack and will have to try and make sense of something that does not. I am crying for the parents and families, the world is crying with them.
Contributor, Meredith S. (USA): This takes me back to Dec.14, 2012…. When the classroom of first graders were murdered here in the U.S. My son was in first grade at the time and it really hit home for me. Just when I think there couldn’t be anything worse than a classroom of murdered first graders, yesterday I find out an entire school of innocent defenseless children are murdered. My mind cannot comprehend the evil and I will never be able to imagine the loss, heart break, and anger the mothers, Fathers, and families of the victims must be feeling. My heart is broken. If people cannot respect the lives of children then I do not know what the future holds….
“My daughter said she was going to go to school so that she can wipe away my tears. How is she wiping my tears away in the den of the terrorists?”
-mother of one of the #ChibokGirls, abducted on April 14th, 2014, speaking on Day 188 of their abduction -October 19th, 2014
As I looked at her I realized that all this woman’s hopes and aspirations rest on her daughter. For most of the poor people in this part of the world, children are like a source of pension; they are the ones that will help you in the future. They are the ones that will take care of you in your old age, when you are unable to look after yourself. They represent life. As I looked at her I also realized that her daughter means more to her than I can ever imagine. Her daughter is her everything. A source of hope.
These parents are ready to give their lives for their children to have an education. That was what the #ChibokParents did. Amidst the insecurity in Nigeria, they still wanted their children to be educated to better their positions in life. They knew the only way to break the shackles of poverty was through education. For daring to send their children to school to have a better life, instead they have been punished.
These children grow up to not only take care of their parents but siblings as well so that a generation of people who have survived the shackles of poverty would emerge.
For some, poverty is going to school in the morning without breakfast and returning home not expecting lunch but still striving everyday to be in school so that one day you will look back and say I SURVIVED (I AM A SURVIVOR).
I remember one of the fathers at one of our Sit Ins for the #BringbackOurGirls campaign—which started on April 30th with a protest demanding for the rescue of #ChibokGirls—saying he does not have a Television. All he has is a Radio from which he gets to hear of our activities. I wept! In this day of iPads, Tablets, iPhones and what have you, someone does not have a simple television that most of us take for granted.
So now you can begin to understand that to the #ChibokParents these girls are much more than daughters, they are future benefactors
A lot of parents, especially mothers, are forced to live a life of servitude and poverty in order for their children to be educated. The education that is taken for granted in most developed countries is not so in Nigeria and many other African countries.
I remember growing up and how my parents had to struggle to make sure we were educated. We often had to go without food when the situation grew dire but never were my school fees unpaid. I remember my father trekking long distance to buy a textbook I needed badly because the money was not enough for him to pay for a bus. All the suffering was for the children to be able to break the vicious cycle of poverty and one day to be able to take care of ourselves and also take care of our parents and siblings.
A lot of parents invest all they have in their children. For those who are poor, they do not have cars, houses or any investments. All they have are their children. Can you imagine these children being abducted, as is the case with the #ChibokGirls, abducted from school, where they wanted to get an education and make life better for themselves and their families? When these children of the poor are abducted and taken away, the future of a whole generation also is taken away.
As I looked at the woman with tears streaming down her face, all I could see was my own mum, who had to be the head-of-household, who worked all day and night to ensure I had an education. I look back to the days when there was no food to be eaten and yet we found our way to school. I thought of what a burden it must have been for my parents to get us educated, to sacrifice all that they had.
While some of my parent’s contemporaries were busy enjoying life in the way they could with what they had, my parents tightened their belt to make sure that we, their children, had an education and of course today we are their pension. If any of us had been abducted while seeking an education, where would we be today?
As I stood watching the Chibok mother, all I could think about was my mother struggling to give her children the life she did not have and how hard she worked to provide that for us. I thought of my mother, now living in the lap of luxury because she worked so hard four sake. As I stood looking at the Chibok Mother, I realized she too must be allowed to break the shackles of poverty. She too must live in comfort, as her daughter promised her. Her tears must be wiped away. As I stood looking at her I realized that I cannot stop demanding for the rescue of the #ChibokGirls, for that Chibok mother who has given her all, hoping that one day her tears would be wiped away.
I realized that I must demand the rescue of the Chibok girls.We all must.
Demanding the safe return of the Chibok girls to me is like making a demand for the ME that was 23 years ago. As I stood I realized that no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much we are intimidated and harassed, no matter the threat of arrest from our government, I cannot afford to give up on the #ChibokGirls.
To give up on the #ChibokGirls is to give up on myself (the WHO that I have become) and to give up on the mother with tears streaming down her face, waiting for her daughter, who promised to wipe away her tears.
This is an original, Guest Post for World Moms Blog from our sister in Nigeria and mother of two, Aisha Yesufu.
Aisha Yesufu was born in Kano, Nigeria. When she turned 40, in December 2013, she decided it was time to devote her life fully to the services of others. As she describes it,
‘The first 40 years of my life I devoted to myself, so I could be financially independent and help others. But they say: you can’t help the poor by being poor yourself, so the next 40 years, God willing, I am going to devote to others; for me, a full life will be based on what positive differences I have made in the life of another.”
And in came the unfortunate tragedy of the abduction of the #ChibokGirls. Following their abduction, on April 14th 2014, Aisha joined a group of like minded people to demand the rescue of the 219 school girls, who still today remain in the hands of the terrorists. These girls, between the ages of 16 to 18, were abducted from their school, in their quest for knowledge. The group known as the #Bring Back Our Girls campaign has been able to push the issue of their rescue in public discussion both locally and internationally.
Aisha is the coordinator of the daily Sit In for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group. The group has, without fail, come out daily since the 30th of April, 2014, despite all forms of intimidations and harassment by sponsored persons.
To get involved in the conversation and learn more about the plight of the 219 Nigerian School Girls, visit: #BringBackOurGilrs