When Russian soldiers had invaded Finland in 1939, a lot of Finnish children were sent to Sweden so they could live somewhere peaceful. This continued until 1944 and my mother and her younger sister were some of the children sent to Sweden. The purpose was good, but during this time not so much was known about children’s psyche and how this would affect them. First and foremost, well- wishing people on both sides of the border wished to save as many children as possible. Everyone understood that war will affect them, but no one understood how the separation from families would affect the children.
Sending away children like this had never happened before, so they had nothing to compare with. The thing is that not until the 1960s children were believed not to even feel physical pain, less emotional pain. Surgeons even performed operations on infants without anesthesia. Adults say that kids get over a trauma quickly, but they only learn how to hide their emotions to not upset the adults. Small children who have undergone trauma many times lose their ability to speak about their emotions. Children who haven’t developed a language yet show their emotions through their actions. The problem is that sometimes these children don’t show anything at all, they become numb and we are led to believe that the children don’t need to speak about their emotions. The thing is that these children don’t know how to speak about their emotions. It can be a mish-mash of feelings and they simply don’t know where to begin.
A trauma of a child will not only affect its body, but also its development and attachment to other people. A trauma caused by fear as an effect of war can haunt the child for the rest of its life. When my mother was around 6 years old, she was sent to the local shop to buy some small things. My mother and her family lived in a small cottage in the forest. They had a very small farm, some chicken and two cows. The family was large and very poor, my grandma had given my mother a little money for the shopping. The little girl went on along the road running through the forest when she suddenly met a Russian tanker. She panicked and threw herself in the ditch and tried to hide so the Russian soldiers wouldn’t see her.
When the girl finally dared to get up, she realized that she had lost her money. She searched and searched, but it was nowhere to be found. With heavy steps, and fear in her heart, the girl walked home again and was forced to tell her mother what had happened. The situation was so strained, and my grandma was too desperate to think, so she beat the child for losing the money. The fear the child had felt was of no consideration, it was the loss of the money that was a larger problem for a mother stricken by poverty. This is a memory that never left my mother as long as she lived. She often re-lived the moments of fear and injustice, whenever anything happened that triggered her memories. It doesn’t help to even be an elderly person, inside you can still be that child that was mistreated or had gone through a trauma.
All over the world, there are heated discussions about whom to blame – the Israelis or the Palestinians. It is Hamas here and Iran there, and the blame-game is spinning faster than the bullets shot from guns pointed at innocent people. I don’t have enough knowledge to get myself involved in an analysis of the situation, and what has caused it, instead I look at the consequences of the conflict. I see the injured children, I see videos with children found in the dust from a bombed building. Children crying for mum, mum! This word seems to be international; when you hear small children cry for their mum they use the same sound.
Some days ago, a hospital was bombed in Gaza and 470 people died. Most of these people were outside the hospital, camping on its parking sites as they believed they were safe there , that no one would bomb a hospital. It is said that there seemed to be something wrong with the bomb, that it was fired by the Hamas to reach Israel, but it changed direction in the air and parts of it hit the hospital. It might be so, I am not the one to tell, but the consequences thereof are that a lot of innocent people were killed in an instant. What was left of the hospital was only dust and rubble, the casualties were too many for a human mind to handle.
The volunteers who tried to find survivals in this hell hole have seen sights they will never be able to forget. Their souls are captured in this disaster and they know that there is no way out. The Gaza Strip is closed and there is no possibility to get out of this misery. It is said that the last thing that leaves us humans is our hope, but what hope do the people in Gaza have? That death comes quickly? There is no water, no electricity, no medications, no food, no where to hide from the bombs. The Gaza Strip is small, only about 40 kilometers long, and on this small area you have around 2 million people living. Had around 2 million people living, as they get outnumbered every day.
You think you are crowded in The Gambia, but you have plenty of space if you compare with the people in Gaza. You live on fertile land and could live in paradise on earth if you just took good care of your resources.
You allow yourself and your leaders to argue about petty things, allow greed to lead others into misery. It is said that every country has its national sport, and I think that the blame-game is where you excel over anyone I have ever met. We have an expression here in Sweden: if you dig a hole for others, you often fall in it yourself. Is this a reason for why the roads are in such bad condition everywhere in The Gambia? You don’t want anyone to come a little bit further than yourself, so you make sure that your neighbour’s part of the road is in even worse condition than yours? Did you ever consider that you might need to use the same roads and that the misery will affect you all?
Whatever decisions we make, we must always consider the consequences. Not only short-term, but also long-term, because what we do now will affect the future generations. Children die because of angry men’s decisions, mothers lose their children, see their children suffer because of angry men’s decisions. For how long must this go on before we understand that this has to stop? We only have one earth and we are mistreating it in a shameful way. We act like cowards, take no responsibility for what will come. We live for the moment, for our impulses and our lust. We live, while others are dying because of angry men’s decisions.