Swirls of Arabic fill the pages; many of the children decorated their letters with drawings of rebels shooting machine guns, carts stacked with missiles, grenade launchers, tanks and pickup trucks with missile launchers in their flatbeds. There were many drawings of Libya’s historic flag, restored after Gaddafi’s defeat.
The Libyan children come from big families: most have six to eight siblings. Their letters have an earnest, didactic quality that seems odd flowing from the pens of tweens — especially to Canadian eyes. The letters are less stories of daily life than rhetorical exhortations to the glory of the uprising, which they say began in Al Bayda on Feb. 16, 2011, and its heroes.
“Now we feel there is a new vision, a new, beautiful Libya, and we start witnessing the changes every day,” writes Yosra Mohammed El Brasi, who is in Grade 7. “I have never seen anything like this in my life. Suddenly we feel we have a flag that we could be proud of, an anthem we could be proud of. Our parents kept the flag and the anthem alive in their hearts, but we were never able to talk about it. Gaddafi the dictator never gave people a chance to express their feeling. Now we can express our own feelings and speak freely.”
One letter describes mercenaries killing, raping and stealing from the town; another describes missiles hitting houses.
The letters left a strong impression on the Toronto students, who can rattle off dates and details of the Libyan uprising. It has also made them cherish their own lifestyles.
“It made me feel, living in Canada, that many children are not as fortunate as us,” said Cheryl Cheung, 11.
How right you are, Cheryl. And how crushing it would be for you and your impressionable classmates to have to confront the truth--that the Libyans who "won" the war with NATO's help were every bit as brutal and bloodthirsy as the wicked potentate they chased down and killed like a rat in a hole.
Hey, I think I just figured out what about this story bugged me so much: its refusal to let the truth encroach on--and derail--the speeding train of heartwarming mush. (Sometimes it takes me a moment or two, but I do get there, eventually.)