So I have been lacking inspiration to write for a few weeks now. A lot is going on in my personal life, a lot of change and upheaval and I haven’t been able to put pen to paper. So I decided to do something I usually do when I need inspiration, I looked up one of my favorite role models; Janusz Korczak. Now this man is a saint. During the height of the second world war he left his secure post as a military doctor for the Germans to open an orphanage for jewish street children. And he stayed with them even when they were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto and then to Auschwitz and Treblinka where they were used as human guinea pigs for horrible experiments and/or killed in the gas chambers. It is rumored Korczak died in a gas chamber with his beloved orphans, telling them stories while they died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
But today the heroes to me was not Korczak but the children. When you can, use google images to search for ‘Children of Warsaw Ghetto’. Your heart will break, shatter to a million little pieces. I am not ashamed to admit that tears came to my eyes as I saw a picture of a four year old girl dying in the street as other children walked past her, numb to her plight. No one should have to die like that. No one.
These children braved death and snuck out of the slum to steal food and smuggle to their families. The Warsaw ghetto had a fence around it that was bricked through. There were cracks small enough that adults couldn’t pass through. The Germans thought them harmless. So these jewish children volunteered to go and find food instead since they could pass through easily. Every time they went, they risked their lives. Some were as young as six years old. When they got caught, they were shot and hung from chimneys as a warning for stealing rotting food from dustbins so their mothers and fathers wouldn’t starve. Kai! What is this life?
It makes me feel small to read about these remarkable children who held on to hope in spite of everything. It makes me think.
What do I think I have gone through?
What are my problems?
What have I suffered, really?
I don’t ever want to not be touched by these things. To take other people’s suffering for granted. That’s why even when I don’t have money, I try to talk to these Nigerien street children who drag our hands every day begging for 10 naira. It reminds me that they are human. And I don’t want to ever forget that.
I hope I never become jaded enough to become indifferent to these things. I pray that never happens.