Children of Yemen is created because as a visual artist I wanted to give something back to the country where I was once a guest.
The war in Yemen is long, too long.
A safe society cannot be taken for granted. But art can push boundaries and create new possibilities.
Yemen has a rich cultural-historical past. That was the reason for me to visit that country in 1999. A journey that has enriched my life for the beauty, purity and originality of this land once to be known as Arabia Felix, the Happy Arabia. A country where poetry is very important.
If it is true,
That my origin is earth
Then the whole world is my home
And all the world my family
This text was woven into the caps of the sons of noble families in Yemen for centuries until about eighty years ago.
During that trip I made a photo series of children. Once I wanted to do something with it. That time has come now. The necessity is now greater than ever. Because the children suffer a lot from the war situation.
My tour guide at that time was Marjolein Wijninckx. After more than 20 years I found her again. She currently
works at the peace organization PAX. It was an inspiring meeting where I presented my ideas for this project to her. It was my dream to find those children again. Meanwhile, the reality of the current war situation in Yemen has made it impossible.
At the end of 2019 I planted the seed for the Children of Yemen project. And now I work with people from Yemen who have emigrated to the Netherlands. That’s how I got in touch with Gamal (Jamal) Badr Al-Aghbari and Ali Al-Ganad, (see TEAM) and native Dutch people who have a warm bond with this country.
In the Children of Yemen project, we focus on children who grow up or have grown up in a war zone. How do young people become who they are?
The circumstances determine who you are. Whether we grow up in a free country or in a war, in love or in hate, partly determines our identity, just like the family and the place where we grow up.
Topics addressed in the project include love, identity and childhood.
The age-old poetic text above occupies a central position. We ask the participating writers and artists from Yemen and the Netherlands to reflect on this through artistic expressions.
ART & CHILDREN
In Children of Yemen we will also ask children in this country to make an artistic contribution. These can be drawings, poems, photos, paintings, comics, etc. The theme is hope and love.
The children we will approach through our contacts in Yemen for this purpose, live scattered throughout the country and come from the cities of Al Mukhalla, Aden, Taiz, Marib, Al Hudaydah, Al Bayda, Sanaa and Shibam.
Education is extremely important for children worldwide, and therefore also for the children in Yemen. They have the future.
In an interview with Yemeni journalist Sasha Basharen in the weekly De Groene Amsterdammer (10-10-2019), I read that despite the bombs, the children in Yemen still go to school.
That is why we are now setting up an exchange project between a school in Hadhramaut Yemen and the Pontes Lyceum in Goes. This project will also focus on the artistic contributions of students on the theme of hope and love.
In Children of Yemen, we are looking for that which connects us.
Children still feel that connection best and therefore fulfill a central position in this project.
The intention is for the Children of Yemen website to become a platform in which love and connection are central.