Dance in time of war
by Celine Semaan Vernon
I am reading a book about Rumi, the poet. When this story landed on my desk from our partners at ANERA, I couldn't help but think about this poem.
The Lover is ever drunk with Love.
He is mad,
she is free.
He sings with delight,
she dances with ecstasy.
Caught by our own thoughts,
we worry about everything.
But once we get drunk on that Love
whatever will be, will be.
Meet Hussam Khankan.
There is no doubt that some people master the art of war, but in these little streets of refugee camps, there are some people who master art during wartime, one of these people is Hussam Khankan.
Hussam loves dancing.
Hussam, 14, is a young boy from Holms, Syria. Almost three years ago, he and his family fled to Halba in northern Lebanon, seeking safety from the civil war.
Leaving everything behind, Hussam still remembers schooldays, when he used to feel happy and safe, playing football on the streets with friends who were left behind when his family fled. “On my last day in Homs, I gathered with my friends next to the school yard, we said goodbye and promised to meet again. Then I left,” said Hussam. After coming to Lebanon, his only friend from Syria died in an explosion in Tripoli.
Hussam took part of ANERA’s “Sports For Peace” program, where he is learning Capoeira along with others kids from Halba.
If you want to see his eyes dazzling ask him what Capoeira is. “It’s a mix of marshal arts, dancing and playing drums. Do you want me to show you some moves?”
The Capoeira classes gave Hussam a little happiness – space to express himself, his nostalgia, his desire to go back home, his dream of becoming a professional singer and dancer, and to sing for Syria. “Art makes people love each other,” Hussam says.
“When I grow up, I want to become a professional singer. I want to go back to Syria and learn singing and dancing at the art institute in Damascus. But my biggest dream now is just to go back to Homs. Our house was a heaven on earth but now it lies in ruins,” Hussam says.
While playing with kids from Halba, Hussam faces a lot of bullying and racism. “Kids run after me saying, ‘You are Syrian. Go back home!’ I defend myself saying that we are all humans and once we go back home you can come visit and I welcome you with hospitality and kindness,” Hussam declares.
We are so proud to contribute in the work ANERA is doing by improving lives of refugees in the Middle East. We are so thankful of the support we got in our initiative and cannot thank you enough for contributing and participating with us in this network of empowerment and inspiration. You are a true inspiration.