So wrote the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Childhood should be sounds, smells, hopscotch, skateboards, pink tutus and ballet shoes, football and mud puddles, bedtime stories of once upon a time and innocence where a universe means toys and sticky toffee. Sadly the very dark hour of reason and cruel reality dawned at a tender young age for the Springs kids from pastural Yazidi villages in Shingal, northwest Iraq.
The Kingdom of Childhood died a sudden death as classmates were gunned down in cold blood. The Kingdom of Childhood was murdered when fathers fell motionless, hands tied, blindfolded in hot, heaving mass graves. The Kingdom of Childhood was desecrated when mothers were packed into buses and carted off into the bowels of Mosul and Raqqa to be raped and tortured. The Kingdom of Childhood was brutalized as girls barely old enough to dress a doll became kitchen slaves in the kingdom of Daesh (Islamic State). The Kingdom of Childhood was decimated as grade one kids were forced to say that they were infidels, sons of infidels and were forcibly recruited into the kingdom of death. The Kingdom of Childhood died on August 3, 2014. Thousands of brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, classmates, colleagues, betrothed, all died that day. They were not nobodies. They were somebodies and everyone. Childhood died along with them. The Kingdom of Childhood was officially dead in Shingal.
Here at Springs of Hope Foundation we live among the living and the dead. Our inherited kingdom is those who have survived the kingdom of death. Kids so abused, so tortured, so radicalized that upon their dangerous release and rescue from the camps of Daesh many have short circuited and mentally and emotionally gone underground. Checked out. Fractured. Fragmented and disassociated. Yet many have the courage to expose their suffering in order to heal . To pull up their shirts and show their ravaged bodies pierced with precise deliberation by knives and bullets. To expose the ugliness of darkness thereby taking the first brave step in driving it away.
S. should be learning how to decorate cupcakes with pink frosting. Her Kingdom of Childhood died in the captivity of Daesh along with her murdered parents. She was rescued on April 11, just a few days ago. Her four sisters remain, supposedly in captivity. She cries and screams in her sleep.
T. was rescued this week. All his family, his mother, his father and his three sisters are either dead or in captivity. He is hoping to see his Kingdom of Childhood restored. He is silent, motionless. Traumatized.
Whether Jew or Christian, spring is the season where our focus is upon deliverance, ransom, redemption, crossing over to a new land with new promise and new future. New beginnings. The chance that we personally have been given. During Passover, Jews are told to relate to the Exodus from the 400 years of cruel servitude in Egypt as one was himself or herself delivered. It is personal. It is deliverance. It is rescue from slavery.
This rescue, which took place this week, is personal.
It will take a lifetime to repay the ransom cost.
S. is just 10 years old. She was held for over two and a half years in Dirazor, Syria.
Rescued from Syria on April 10 in the middle of Passover.
I quote the author of a very personal book, Danielle Bernock. ” Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent scream continues internally, heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams, healing can begin”
I am asking you to do a hard thing. Something that maybe foreign to you. Something that maybe scary. I am asking you to enter the pain of the Springs kids, those who were rescued from the kingdom of death during the season of freedom and liberation.
Hopefully, Yours is a gentle, loving project of Springs of Hope Foundation. A way to enter the pain, to come close but not be overwhelmed. A way of restoring the Kingdom of Childhood through deliberate acts of kindness, which bring redemption to the Kingdom of Childhood.
I am humbly asking you to consider a 12-month financial commitment to one of these newly released kids. Kids who have been rescued from the jaws of death but have returned to an empty world. Their Kingdom of Childhood truly has died and is indeed firmly buried. We want to see lives, hopes, dreams, resurrected and fulfilled. It will cost $60 per month to clothe and feed them and to purchase some of the most urgent, most basic needs. It will not return their families. We work, pray and fight for that. But $60 will help to mend the immediate holes in a broken life.
Quietly look at the Springs kids … and ponder your place in their lives.
R and S. are brothers. Trained to kill. Now they would kill for a football and a bike … and to forget.
D. was just released from Mosul. No family. But oh, does she love to sing!
S. is an orphan. Speaks only a little Syrian Arabic.
R. is 7 years old. He spent two-plus years in captivity, a slave in the kitchens of Daesh. Abused and tortured. He loves Superman and Batman and has a cool grin. Oh, and he loves cake.
These are but a few of our newly rescued — and in need of adoption — kids. Thank God for those who have given all to rescue them, but the rescue needs to continue and to lay down foundations for the years ahead. If you are willing to adopt one of our kids who have survived the unimaginable for close to three years, please reach out to us today and Hopefully one of these will be Yours.
Help to rebuild the Kingdom of Children, to replace their broken mirrors and give them a new vistas. Be part of creating new memories which will remain with them through the years ahead. Love as deed. Tangible, practical help.