Hugs & Guns

Poem by Jumanna, Algeria. Photograph by Hasna, Morocco.

She grew up in a world that made her believe that peace is a lie, and the only choice she has is to run and hide, or surrender and die.

On her 4th birthday, she woke up to the sound of shouting and loud cries, being carried by her mother out the door, without a chance to ask her why.

On her 7th birthday, they shot fireworks in her name, but you see, they were not the type to celebrate with, but the one to make her mother bleed, and make her father hit the ground with no heartbeat.

On her 10th birthday, she could not understand why her brother was not there, until her mother told her he was a hero, but she was certain heroes die, though she tried to change this belief.

On her 12th birthday, she learned to dodge a bullet and dance with flames, to sleep with one eye open, always ready for a dangerous change.

We are bringing kids into a world where home is no longer in sight, where they are greeted with guns instead of warm hugs.

A world that is burying childhood in a muddy ground watered with pure bloods, from mistakes of governments that do not know when to be done.

Kids are growing up too fast far from love, far from hope in a safe and loving family, far from any warmth.

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