They do not believe they can stop war, but they do believe they can help people feel better. These are children who know they can advocate and help others. The are empowered by their work with the homeless shelter. These are children who believe in their ability to help others.
When children ask me questions I always tell the truth in a form I think they can understand. Leela asked to speak to me.
Leela: Are there really wars now?
Zoe: Yes there are.
Leela: So there are soldiers?
Zoe: Yes, there are soldiers.
Leela: Do some soldiers die?
Zoe: Yes, sometimes soldiers die.
Leela: Their families would be very sad.
Zoe: Yes, I think some families would be very sad.
Leela: I want to write to them and tell them I am sorry. I am going to put it on the agenda.
Leela presented her idea to the group and several children wanted to share their personal understandings of war. Some children had family members who had been involved in wars. One child had a family member die, another talked of letters being sent to the house to tell people to fight. Another said someone had been shot, but not killed. Yet another child said someone in their family drove a tank. I carefully gauged the comfort level of the children as they discussed this issue and quietly listened to them.
Leela explained her idea of writing letters and the children asked how she would find people and know who to write to. Ophelia noted this was like the Grade Four campaigns and that Leela might like to make posters.
Leela and Yellana made posters with their Grade Four buddies and asked to put them around the school. I suggested they start with Grade 4. The children explained their ideas to Ms Finnimore and she said she thought she could help find people to write to. There is a group at Brisbane University in Australia who support soldiers with PTSD, we said they were people who war had made very sad, and the children could write to them.
The children in their own words