Colouring the black and white

Tuesday 11 April 2017

It wasn’t long before Luna* rushed back home, frightened and in tears. Wearing a long black Abaya, she had just gone out for a walk with her older brother.

‘’What do you want from her?’’ Luna’s mother, Soha*, confronted the stranger who had followed Luna all the way to the doorstep.

‘’I just wanted to kiss her,’’ he replied. ‘’And congratulate her family.’’

This was the second time an ISIS fighter knocked at their door. On a previous occasion, her mother was scorned, harassed and threatened with severe punishment because she forgot to wear a third veil on her face as dictated by ISIS in Raqqa. Luna told her mother the fighter came to do the same with her.

ISIS imposed the cloak with the multi-layer veil as part of a special dress code to be followed by all women. Any violation often results in beating, disfiguring or- as Luna and her siblings witnessed as they walked by on the street once- beheading.

In Lebanon, where she and her family arrived after a long journey that involved hiding as stowaways in a wheel well on a lorry, Luna was amazed to discover that the habits were different.

‘’I told her she can now wear her dresses,’’ Soha says. ‘’She found it strange because she used to wearing the cloak all the time.’’

But Luna also has other joys besides recovering some of her childhood.

 At Save the Children’s Education centre in Beirut, Luna joins a group of children like her to read, write, paint and sing. Supported by the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), pre-school age children are prepared at this centre for the first school year.

‘’We play with toys. We lean the letter Z,’’ says Luna, moving her hand to create a Z shape in the air.

She has completed the letters and now she wants to grow up and teach them to others.


*Names changed for protection.