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Stand For Children of Syria

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Photo Submitted
Mohja Kahf and other organizers work on art installation for Stand with Children of Syria to be staged Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Town Center.

“. . . There are many talking heads,
but none of them are the head we want,
the one that should matter
above all endgames…” — Mohja Kahf, Professor of English at the UA

By Ginny Masullo

The people of Northwest Arkansas can join hands with people all over the world to “Stand for the Children of Syria,” meeting at 2 p.m. Nov. 17, at the Fayetteville Town Center on the square.

This global rally, according to Syrian born Mohja Kahf, the primary organizer for Fayetteville’s event, “is strictly to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian aid to the thousands of displaced Syrian children. It’s the condition of UNICEF and Amnesty International who are the global sponsors of the worldwide event that there be no politics involved.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimated in August that 200,000 people have fled the violence in Syria and are receiving assistance in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. The estimated number of internally displaced Syrians is more than 500,000 and growing by the day. Around half of all displaced Syrians are children and adolescents, who continue to face interruption of schooling, limited access to basic services, and psychosocial distress caused by displacement and the witnessing of violence.

Kahf, professor of English at the University of Arkansas and a nonviolent activist, has teamed up with many local sponsors, including the Omni Center, St. Paul Episcopal Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church and The Golden Key International Honor Society from the University of Arkansas. Area businesses, Nature’s Water, Arsaga’s and Fiddle Head Fern are contributing their support.

Little Rock’s Free Syrians of Arkansas also will participate. In September they partnered with Rise for Humanity and Syrian American Alliance in Little Rock for a national walk that served the same purpose. Any funds from that walk and from the Nov. 17 fundraiser goes only for relief work. No funds will go to the armed rebels.

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Syrian born Professor of English at the University of Arkansas Mohja Kahf examines photo of Syrian child affected by the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

“Whatever one’s view of the Syrian situation, and there are many, there can be no question that the struggle is now a massive humanitarian crisis,” says Kahf.

In the poem “Holding Fatima to the Light” which author, poet and professor Kafh recently posted on her Facebook page, the narrator responds to one of the many horrific accounts of the brutality occurring in Syria where barrel bombs resulted in the decapitation of a child. The following is an excerpt from that poem. It can be found in its entirety at http://arablit.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/mohja-kahf-holding-fatima-in-the-light/.

The poem speaks to Muslim, Christian, Arab, Kurd, Alawhite, American, to everyone.

… There are many talking heads,
but none of them are the head we want,
the one that should matter
above all endgames. I want
to live in that world, where the little girl’s head matters,
matters more than movies, more than politics,
more than religion, more than anything,
where what is missing above that tangle of bloodied nerves,
is the gap that stops every sentence, every gunshot, is unthinkable.
Have you found the little girl’s head, have you shut
your mouth and stopped your steps, to help,
to bless, to hold in your heart at least one thought for its finding.
Have you. Have you. Have you. Have you —

Fayettevillians have a chance to answer that question on Nov. 17. Bring your heart and your pocketbook. If you can’t attend, donations can be made online at www.unicefusa.org/. If you don’t have anything in your pocket, bring your body to the Fayetteville Town Center, Nov. 17 from 2-3 p.m.

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