|Teens in Israel and Lebanon talk about living through war||2 October 2006|
One of the touchstones of UNICEF’s mission is the simple notion that, in every way that matters, children are the same all over the world. They have the same rights to a childhood free of want and fear, and the same hopes for a bright future.
Two 15-year-old girls from the Middle East recently confirmed the truth of that notion, crossing wide political and cultural divides to find common ground.
Joy lives in Beirut, Lebanon. Omer lives in Haifa, Israel. UNICEF arranged for them to speak by phone and tell each other about their experiences in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Their 45-minute conversation was later edited into a two-part UNICEF Radio story. (Click the audio links at right to listen)
It didn’t take long for Joy and Omer to get to the topics that really interested them.
“We could hear the bombs going off,” Joy said in response to Omer’s question about living through the conflict in Beirut. “They were very close, very loud.”
“For me it was weird,” said Omer. “The first thing that would come into my head was, well, at least we’re doing something. But then I would get really mad at myself that I even dared to think anything about this was good.”
Joy said her brother went to Canada during the war to attend university, but she would not have wanted to go anywhere. Omer agreed that she hadn’t wanted to leave her home in Haifa either, despite invitations from relatives in less war-torn sections of Israel.
Both girls criticized the killing of civilians in Lebanon and northern Israel. Both expressed hopes for an end to the region’s cycle of violence. They agreed that peace would come only if young people – as the leaders of the future – put aside hatred based on past experiences.
And if that happens one day, the exchange of ideas can move beyond a telephone connection between two teenagers who have far more uniting them than dividing them.
“I would love to see Israel,” said Joy. “I hear it’s a nice country.”
“Yeah,” replied Omer. “I would love to see Lebanon.”
For every child
Here are two other links that you may be interested in:
Progress for Children: A report card on water and sanitation
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