December 9 was the peace heroes “launch day” for the Yezidi and Muslim children living in Northern Iraq/Kurdistan. Lisa (whose story was featured in my last blog post), decided to turn the launch into a full-fledged celebration, a day to mark the “birth” of a new culture of peace within the walls of the refugee camps that these kids are living in. In so many ways, such a celebration of peace is incredibly subversive because of how it counters the terrible darkness these children are emerging from. It amazes me how something as simple as the Peace Heroes program can become a catalyst for the reframing of an entire culture and provide a platform for healing. It is, in the end, just a tool – but in the hands of a visionary, like Lisa, it can become a life-changing experience.

I am deeply indebted to Lisa for allowing me to repost her reflections from this momentous occasion, as well as a variety of pictures she (and her team) took, all of which you can find below. Please do visit Springs of Hope Foundation for even more pictures of and reflections on this special day.

(By Lisa Miara)

It wasn’t an event. Or a “one-off.” It was the introduction of a culture. A culture of peace. Three days later and we are still unable to process this historical day where two cultures and two people groups met and engaged. Yezidi and Muslim. It was a day where peace reigned and hope abounded . . .

It was a day of building new memories. For many, the last time that they were gathered in a hall with another hundred people was when they were being separated from their parents, never to see them again, and were carted off at gunpoint to Mosul.

For many of our children, the last time that they were with such a large group of children was in the recruitment camps of the black flag people [ISIS], in danger of being beheaded if they did not implicitly obey orders.

For some of our children, the last time that they aided in food preparation was as slaves in the kitchens of the black flag people, preparing food at knifepoint.

For some of our children, the ability to eat freely was in total contradiction to the starvation imposed by the black flag people.

For all of our children, the ability to lie on the floor and draw was the restoration of a safety and security that was stolen from them on August 3rd, 2014.

For all our Yezidi children, it was a wonder to be served with unending grace and love by our Syrian Muslim kids, who are all peace heroes in the making.

For our courageous rescuers, it was a time to chill and enjoy the healing of those they lay down their lives to save.

For our amazing band, they simply couldn’t believe their ears and eyes . . .

We share some pictures from this day, a diary of a journey into choosing peace, choosing nonviolence, choosing to stand up and be the change. [This is] the Cry from the Frontlines: it’s strong, it’s new, it’s brave. It’s kids pursuing peace.