art and words dedicated to the children of Palestine

Letters for Palestinian childhoods

Letters for Palestinian childhoods is an online and travelling in-person exhibition of letters, poems, and artwork dedicated to the children of Palestine. It aims to counter dehumanising narratives about Palestinians, showing solidarity by attending to the names, stories, experiences, dreams, and struggles of Palestinian children and the actions of the Western-backed Israeli state which are so violently shaping their lives.

March 21, 2024

A Letter for the Children of Gaza

You are not Forgotten.

Dearest, precious, sweet child of Gaza,

I know that no words can suffice for what you have been through, for what you are going through at this difficult time, when I take refuge in the pen.

But I find myself here.

Because for the moment, I don’t know where else to go.

While I’m trapped in this “prison,” I am safe, away from the bombs, bloodshed, death, and destruction, while you remain captive to the most unimaginable harsh realities, to no fault of your own.

I want you to know that we see you, hear you, and feel you.

I hear and dream about your screams and cries crushed beneath the concrete.

Your eyes welled up with tears and tender faces covered in dust and blood and clouded with fear and sorrow.

Your young and healthy hearts are suddenly burdened with the weight of neverending distress, anguish, terror, and bombardment.

Once exploding with the promises, hopes, and dreams from youth, you now bear the scars from thunderous explosions. The innocence of your face is marred by the consequences of hatred from the generations before you, as the shadow of death glooms over your light and pure, gentle radiance.

While the depth and dimensions of your suffering are unimaginable from afar, I just need you to know, that so many of us see you, love you, have not forgotten you, and are praying for you.

You should never have endured such pain and suffering.

Dearest sweet child of Gaza, we know you to be among the bravest, most resilient, fearless, and formidable children of the world, deeply loved, and never forgotten!

Words remain insufficient to describe the hardships you endured, and have endured, the moment Allah blessed us with your presence in this world.

You must know, sweet child… You have done absolutely nothing wrong. This is not your fault.

Your blood is the purest of all.

Please know that our hearts are aching with you. We pray for you each day that your heart keeps beating, through all the death and destruction.

We pray that you survive so you can share your story with the world, so you be given the opportunity for your innocence to be heard.

Your dreams should never have been disrupted by the cruel realities of conflict and war.

You should never have witnessed such massacre and bloodshed.

Your spirits, equipped with everlasting hope and potential, will forever echo within our hearts as we mourn your untimely and cruel departure, your absence, and your suffering.

It is a profound grief felt deeply by many across the world.

I wish that we lived in a world of peace, justice, love, and freedom for all people, where such pure innocence, no matter your race, language, nationality, religion, or socio-economic status, is preserved, cherished, and protected from the devastation of war and conflict.

Unfortunately, this is the world we currently inhabit.

Your memories will be a testament to the urgent call and dire need for peace, understanding, and the unwavering commitment to safeguard the the future generations, regardless of our differences.

With every breath you took, you shed light on this world, and you left us with a legacy.

I pray that this legacy inspires a world where children of all backgrounds everywhere can flourish, laugh, play, scream with excitement, and dream and aspire together as equals.

I pray that you and every child of Gaza be given the chance to live, to learn, to explore the world, and become whatever you want to be, and without fear.

My dear sweet child of Gaza,

You are not forgotten.

I know you are undergoing the most horrific nightmare. I hope you know that your resilience and strength have inspired the world.

You were not born an abomination. You were not born a crime.

You were unjustly punished for being born in a beautiful, special place called Palestine.

We wear, and paint, and honor the colors red, white, green, and black, with your memory, now and always.

If God should take you from us now, may he bless you with eternal Paradise.

I am so sorry that the world failed you. I’m so sorry that we let this happen to you. I’m so sorry we didn’t do more for you.

But we are winning this battle for the “hearts and minds” around the world. Your death, pain, and suffering will not go in vain.

We will not lose hope, dear child of Gaza. We know you are confronting an unfathomable plight.

Our anger, our sadness, and our fight for your liberation will never subside.

We need you to fight, to be alive, to be there for others when times get better.

You were born in a cage, born amid carnage and destruction, but in your lifetime, you will break off those chains and be free.

The world will come together to witness and celebrate your freedom.

You will live in the homeland of your ancestors in peace.

And we will fight for the justice of those who you lost.

Despite this colossal hardship, your formidable spirit, and courage in the face of unimaginable adversity, overwhelm our hearts and bring hope for a peaceful tomorrow.

With love and support from afar, we stand with you, holding onto our faith in Allah, from your strength and perseverance, that brighter days will dawn, where your laughter and joy will replace your sorrows and fears.

Wishing you strength and peace in the trying days to come and praying for your continued resilience, courage, bravery, and survival.

Today we have failed you. Tomorrow we keep fighting.

Because, from the river to the sea, Palestine, tomorrow will be free.

Keeping you in my prayers.

Sending you my peace, warmth, and blessings.

With all my heart,

Your Auntie and Sister,

Dr. Elsa Talat Khwaja (Washington, DC, USA)

Image: From the River to the Sea, Resistance Paints a Sweet Harmony

– Completed during the humanitarian pause in November, 2023
Dr. Elsa Talat Khwaja (Washington, DC, USA)