Marathon for Children: Running for the Right to Play
I was ecstatic as I read an email sent by a manager at a Canadian toy company. The company donates a large number of toys each year to inner city kids throughout
The feeling of joy that I felt that day was unparalleled. Rarely do I experience in my job as a writer, whose main focus is war and conflict, this overpowering sense of elation. I had to tell someone that 11,000 toys would be shipped to Palestinian refugee camps before the Muslim holiday. This will certainly be a memorable Eid for so many children denied the simple pleasure of holding a teddy bear, or watching a toy police car running in circles with blazing sirens. My friend, Mohammed, a reporter from
“Toys?” he asked with an irritated tone. “What Palestinian children need is weapons, to defend themselves,” he exultantly explained, as various colleagues nodded their head with agreement.
His statement mixed truth with bizarre logic. True, Palestinian children needed to be protected, but to expect a child to further abandon his childhood and to carry a weapon was most cruel, insensitive.
I revisited the subject with my friend an hour later, this time armed with all sorts of print outs. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child,” I lectured, asserted that “every child has the inherent right to life…survival and development,” that “children must be protected from ‘injury or abuse, that “a child who is seeking refugee status or who is…a refugee … [shall] receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.” He seemed equally unimpressed. Later that evening I found my friend with a shopping cart, loaded with toys, candies, and all the rest, as he and his entire family were cheerfully finishing their shopping for the Muslim holiday. His children were eagerly pointing at every dazzling toy they find, and he, happily obliged.
I still wonder if he had ever figured out the irony in denying Palestinian children toys for the holiday and hauling, on the very same day, every toy his kids requested?
This episode took place several years ago, but I am still as resentful as ever, resentful of the notion that Palestinians, mostly in refugee camps, are entrusted with the daunting task of withstanding the awesome military might of
But even a child, in a most atrocious war zone is still a child. No matter how much fear and grief prevail in her life, she still longs for a toy monkey that flips around on the push of a button.
In fact, that was one of very a few toys that I have ever received growing up as a child in
Palestinian children deserve to enjoy the edicts of UN conventions. Palestinian children don’t need rhetoric nor wish to be designated as anyone’s ‘guardians’ and ‘heroes’; they need safety, security, protection and a promise for a better future.
When Playgrounds for
On November 23, Susan Abulhawa and I, joined by a few others, will be running the Philadelphia Marathon. Our goal is to raise 12,000 dollars to build a playground for Palestinian children. The organization has already erected several playgrounds throughout the
Please visit this link (http://playgroundsforpalestine.com/support_runners.php) and contribute. You can also join us, or run your own race to raise awareness and funds for Palestinian children and Playgrounds for
Thank you for your help.
-Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press,