Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Insight into the process

A brief introduction

The exchange of letters between Valia Mhaish in Tripoli and myself is a testimony as to what it takes to bring about such an action. It requires first of all obtaining the canvas which has the same size as Picasso's Guernica, namely 7,8 x 3,5 m. But then many more details matter before the energy, courage and vision can be found. The main effort has to be to convince others, and especially the children and youth who can be at times very reluctant to join in, and this for many reasons.

Valia Mhaish participated already in the second mural which was painted in Tripoli, and which is called “Together we see better” and which was under the co-ordination of Iman Mourad who had also initiated the first mural in Lebanon with the title "Enough! We want to live" and which was exhibited for the first time in Chios 2007.

Hatto Fischer Athens 10.9.2014



Dear Hatto,

Unfortunately I lost her phone number and e-mail as well. I will be glad to inform her about the project. I bet she is very interested in participating. So if you can send me her e-mail, I would be grateful.

I thank God that her daughter escaped from the bomb blast. I had few episodes myself with the shooting. Tripoli is a small city, so as you can imagine many people were in danger when the bombing happened. My institute is just across the street from the mosque that exploded. It is a point of contact between both parties. Thank God we did not have classes that day.

It happens many times that I am at the institute when the shooting and hunting starts. We find ourselves running into the institute to call the parents to come and to take their children. We try to escape as soon as the fight starts because it gets worse by the minute. And when we go out, we see tanks all around the school and across the street. By the way, I am writing you this email while hearing the shooting. It started 3 hours ago. We never know when it starts and stops. It may happen anytime anywhere.

Valia Mhaish


Athens 5.12.2013

Dear Valia,

whenever I hear in the news that another bomb exploded and innocent people were killed, then I ask myself why does the world not revolt against this senseless killing of innocent people? Why does no one develop in the media an argumentative strategy against such arbitrary violence, itself the rule of 'lawlessness'. Rather it is treated by the newscasters only as breaking news and is even used to suggest there are dangerous terrorists around to justify the going to yet another war.

Picasso responded to Guernica after the city was bombed and mainly upon hearing that countless innocent people had been killed. Since then the attack against civilians has only escalated.

I can sense what you and others go through daily. Already another friend in Tripoli drew my attention to this fact. She said we live in a 'schizophrenia of peace': while the youth returns from surfing and go into a disco to hear music, just across the street another bomb goes off. Many people have not yet understood that this schizophrenia drives everyone still deeper into more aggressive stances due to being seemingly helpless against this 'invisible violence' lurking everywhere and then suddenly exploding any time any where.

There is a most telling poem about random violence by Brendan Kennelly called 'nails'. It relates to Belfast and reflect the IRA terror which reigned in Northen Ireland for quite some time, and which has still not abated completely to date. The poem goes like this:


The black van exploded

Fifty yards from the hotel entrance.

Two men, one black-haired, the other red,

Had parked it there as though for a few moments

While they walked around the corner

Not noticing, it seemed, the children

In single file behind their perky leader,

And certainly not seeing the van

Explode into the children’s bodies.

Nails, nine inches long, lodged

In chest, ankle, thigh, buttock, shoulder, face.

The quickly gathered crowd was outraged and shocked.

Some children were whole, others bits and pieces.

These blasted cruxifixions are commonplace.

Note: see as well Brendan Kennelly's essay on 'poetry and violence' at http://www.poieinkaiprattein.org/poetry/brendan-kennelly/poetry-and-violence/ )

About the canvas needed to paint the mural, we used to obtain the canvas from a Japanese company and through Takuya Kaneda, the coordinator of Kids' Guernica. I will provide you with the relevant addresses. But in case you face difficulties, let me know and we try to make sure that you obtain such a canvas which has the same size as Picasso's Guernica, namely 7,8 x 3,5 m.

I advise for undertaking such an action to conceive of such a method which allows the children to participate in a way which allows them to learn through their socialization. The term we use to describe that is 'collaborative learning'. Children do that almost spontaneously when allowed to paint together, that is without any interference by adults.

In the process they stand to acquire a new kind of literacy which allows them to protect each other against all forms of violence.


Athens 4.2.2014
Dear Valia,
did you succeed in making contact with the company in Japan, so that you could order a canvas from them? Or did you manage to contact Takuya Kaneda, in order to find out more about that company? If yes, do you have now a new contact address where one can order a canvas? Since we plan to do actions in Europe, it would be most helpful if you have some new information. Trust everything going well with you, please let me know how things stand with regards to your planned action.
With warmest regards

Dear Hatto,


Thank you for your message. I contacted Takuya Kaneda regarding the canvas and he offered his help.


I am still waiting for the situation in Lebanon to become a little more secure so that we can start the project. I got the acceptance and the fund for the project, but we are facing some difficulties because of the situation and the bombings that are happening every week. We want the children to be in complete safe, so we still didn't decide for the exact date of the project, but I suppose it will be in April.


4 days ago a car with a bomb inside it exploded next to a gas station, and yesterday a man blew himself up inside a bus. He had a dynamite belt around his body... Today I was with a friend, fixing her car, and in our way back as we were entering one of the streets we saw people wearing all black and holding weapons... All of that makes us very depressed and scared because we don't know and where a bombing may happing or when suddenly a fight and shooting may start.


I hope everything is going well with you and I wish you best luck in your projects in Europe.

I will keep you updated regarding my project. Wish us luck..


Best regards,




Athens 4.2.2014

Dear Valia,

yes, I have been following the news with regards to developments in Lebanon. Miriam, the daughter of Iman Nouri, wrote to me that she cannot stand this kind of paranoia for it is more than just fear which unsettles her.

Especially if you make experiences of war or violent clashes close at hand, and especially when seeing people all dressed in black, this can frighten anyone even more so. For it signals a kind of deadly determination by people who no longer allow to be reasoned with. Once language, the possibility to talk with each other, is taken away, then one feels one's own complete helplessness.

All the more a great tribute to you that you wish to go ahead with a Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth action. And indeed it is important that you make sure that the children feel save. That is a prime need.

As to the canvas itself, we shall search as well for a canvas. As I informed you already, Alexandra in France wishes to undertake with children suffering from epilepsy likewise such a painting action. We have found now one other solution instead of relying on the company in Japan. Ines Dulay Winkler in Germany has made out a company where you can order the material and once you have the canvas, all what you need is someone to put the nooses around the edges, so that the canvas once painted can be easily hung anywhere. See attachment for the address of the company and if you wish to order it from Germany, you may also want to consult Ines in Tübingen.

I also include in my reply Alexandra in France, Bernard in Belfast, Gertrude in Malta and Jad in Paris along with Thomas here in Athens who will be likewise interested in following your activities in Lebanon. So I hope you do not mind that I share with them your letter but it is important to be in touch through you with the reality you and others have to face in Lebanon.

With best wishes and good energy,



Tue, Feb 4, 2014

Dear Hatto,

I would be more than happy to share my activities with all of you.

It also relieves me to talk about the situation we are living in and to share my thoughts, feelings and wounds because I am mentally exhausted and I need to share that with others. However, it makes me sad as well because I am showing an ugly picture of my country. I try to make things easier on me and ease my wound, but what I truly feel is way more dreadful.

Thank you for your help regarding the canvas.

Please keep me updated with your actions and activities as I will do the same.

Best regards,





Dear Hatto,

I hope this email finds you well.

As usual we are still facing some troubles in Lebanon. Yesterday a new series of fights started in Tripoli. I was lucky enough to have finished teaching an hour earlier before the fight had started.

Now regarding the Guernica Youth action I was planning to make in Tripoli, we finally found the perfect date for the project. The Guernica Youth project will be incorporated in a huge peace event that will take place in Tripoli in Azm Educational Campus next month.

I will either get a canvas from Japan with Takuya's help or from the company in Germany, which you gave me. I contacted Ines and I am still waiting for her reply.

This was a brief update about my plans.

Best wishes,



Dear Valia,

thanks for the update.

Having just seen the latest news about fights in Syria, I can imagine the risk of more spill over effects in Tripoli. All the more the need to avoid a fragmentation and consequently a wrong polarization in the society of Lebanon.

As this has been the declared aim of Iman Mourand, have you notified her at all about your plans?

Now about the canvas, I include Ines and Thomas Economacos here in Athens to see how we can help you to resolve this crucial matter. When we did our first canvas back in 2005, we bought linen cloth, and had it sewn together by an Indian man who also knew how to put nooses around the edges. Then we grounded the canvas, so that it could receive the paints by the children.

What you are about to undertake, is a major effort to ensure peace prevails in Lebanon.

Please keep me informed, but let us first of all resolve the matter of the canvas. One practical question: do you have by now a budget so that you could buy such a canvas either in Germany or in Greece, and then have it be transported to Tripoli?

Warmest regards





Dear Hatto,

I have received an approval regarding the fund of the project no matter how much it will cost.

As for contacting Iman, I am waiting for one more week as per the request of the funders (Azm Educational Campus) because they want to make sure of all the details of the event along with the exact date and all the activities that will be part of it. So hopefully I will be in contact with Iman by the end of next week hoping for her participation, which I am sure of.




Athens 14.3.2014

Dear Valia,

I will inquire with Thomas what are the possibilities of obtaining a canvas here in Athens. Get back to you as soon as I know.

Give my kind regards to Iman. Her daughter Miriam wants to do a mural at her college in Wales. Did you see what she wrote to me in memory of her being twelve when she made contact for the first time with Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth?

Miriam wrote about her first Kids' Guernica experience when she came with her mother to Chios where we had organized in May 2007 an exhibition. Her reflections underline the importance of this experience, see Looking back: memories of the future

I shall forward to you Iman's e-mail address. She would be happy to hear from your efforts.




Athens 25.3.2014

Dear Valia,

I was in the past few days occupied with an application for a project called "Through the eyes of the youth". If we get the funds, then we will seek to understand the youth here in Athens through the graffiti to be found on many walls. Hence I could not follow up what happened to your effort to get a canvas? Did you manage to resolve the transport question in case you would order the canvas in Germany? Please keep me informed.

Warmest regards



Dear Hatto,

Wow, that's a great project! I hope you will get the funds and help you need to proceed with it. Best of luck!

I was occupied as well due to the unstable situation in Tripoli. I didn't even have the chance to speak with my director about the project because the school was closed for 10 days due to the fights and we were trying to find an alternative place to teach in, especially that we have students who have a diploma this year. Last week was a mess.

I have a meeting tomorrow with him and we will hopefully discuss all the issues. In regards to the canvas I couldn't solve the shipping problem. However, I spoke with a supplier in Beirut and he will order one for me.. I have to sew it and put the nooses of course, but it will save me a lot of time to order one from my country. So hopefully the canvas problem is solved. Now we have to deal with the "safety problem" we are always suddenly facing in Tripoli. Maybe we will have to change the place of the "peace event" and move it to a more safe area, you know in case a fight started suddenly.. I have to discuss those issues tomorrow in the meeting hopefully.

I will keep you updated with any news.

Best regards,



Athens 26.3.2014

Dear Valia

I shall include the others who all share the vision of Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth, since it will be important that they partake in the steps you are about to make when initiating a new action in Lebanon.

Yes, I have read about the recent clashes and thought about what you, Imer and Miriam have reported as to what is happening in Lebanon due to the war in Syria, but not only.

Miriam went so far as to admit one can get paranoia as one never knows when a bomb would go off. Iman about one horrific experience she made after one of the bombs went off in Tripoli, namely to hear mothers calling their children despite them knowing that they shall never come home again. Her effort to organize street markets is linked to the idea once people can survive together, this shall prevent society from being fragmented and polarized. Dangerous is when each side forgets the other side although made equally up of human beings like themselves, and who all have children, brothers, sisters, parents, relatives and friends.

Given the need for solidarity, I write to you on behalf of 'Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth' to ensure at least a small group of people will support your efforts in Lebanon. And it will be important on how the situation in Lebanon is discussed 'internally' as it needs to be understood by those external to the situation as to what you, Iman and Miriam, and all the others are going through when in Tripoli and Beirut.

The first mural which Iman brought to Chios when we had our Kids' Guernica exhibition there was most telling, for the title of the mural was "Enough! We want to live." Iman stressed that the culture in Lebanon has a beautiful vitality, so that not everything is negative.

Most important was one key concept which Iman brought to bear upon my reflections about how Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth can contribute to peace, for she said that we live in a world marked by a "schizophrenia of peace". Indeed, this concept does more justice to the reality we live in. It means that on the one side of the street you can have a disco cafe playing music and to which the youth flock after they had gone surfing, and then on the other side of that same street a bomb can go off at any time. That is over and again the experience in cities like Tripoli and Beirut, and most of the time the bombs kill more innocent people who have nothing to do with the conflict.

When I met Gertrude Spiteri and Paul Dalli in Malta last year, we discussed a lot what can be done to face this 'invisible violence'. Since both are members of the Mentoring Society which promotes social literacy, they emphasize rightly so what kind of socialization children and youth go through when they grow up. You will know the own impact of having not only parents at home and in having gone to a certain school but what is the outcome of having joined a club, played some sports and spend time in an orchestra? Everywhere we learn on how to behave towards others and how to face the challenges coming our way. Socialization is so crucial as we all learn to adapt and to refine our cultural filter by which we can facilitate the decisions we make, one of them perhaps a most crucial one insofar as to whom we chose to love and to share our intimate life with.

The kind of terror of the street - bombs going off any time - has been described over and again, but no one can really grasped this new use of arbitrary power. We can understand it perhaps by what it does, namely to instill a great deal more fear since innocent people are the victims of these bomb attacks. And you never really know when to expect it, so that you begin to expect it all the time.

Kevin Cooper as photographer journalist and Bernard Conlon have followed the conflict in Northern Ireland until the Friday peace agreement was reached, and what uneasy peace there exists to date. Kevin coined this important phrase when we met in Gent 2011, namely that "it would be most dangerous to take the abnormal to be normality." He would also add crucial for any peace making effort is to seek a human understanding of the conflict.

So to come back to the question as to why people can become so fanatical and blow up people in the most arbitrary way, then one conceivable answer to that is that they are always sure the modern media will pick up their message and translate it into 'breaking news' whenever a bomb goes off and again it is reported so many people have been killed. The news is spread around free of costs. Most telling is, therefore, something the anarchists have written here on the wall: "even when the batons of the police do not reach into hidden corners, surely the sharpened pen of the journalists will."The latter is a tribute to what poisons the social air and does not let really people talk about the problems they have. Instead everyone seeks a moral stance to be able to claim one's own position is the absolute truth while labelling the other immediately as enemy if he or she disagrees.

We need to discuss and learn through the experiences you shall make when initiating the painting of two canvas in Tripoli - once you have found the right place - on how to understand better the situation in Lebanon. As Iman would write, for her it is important to know the Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth community is there and listening to the steps you make so that you do not feel completely alone. And it helps if you describe to the outside world the problems you face for that will help to improve the communication.

Hence my advise is to let your small report like letters coming so that we can follow your steps, and once people in Lebanon know there are some of us watching, perhaps you can negotiate with both sides to respect this peace effort. For you need to introduce some kind of notion which will safeguard both sides. I call it the creation of space for democracy. And what better freedom of expression can we experience if not what children and youth paint freely on this huge canvas which reminds of what Picasso did once he heard the news what had happened in Guernica.

There is Juan from Madrid but who was for fourteen years of the Peace research Centre called “Transformation of Conflict” in Guernica. He will arrive today in Athens. He will visit me for just one day but I look forward to hear how he has safeguarded one special tree in Guernica. Also he wishes to develop a project together with San Sebastian, the city which is 50 Km away from Guernica and which shall be in 2016 European Capital of Culture. Juan wants to develop a project called 'small stories of resistance'. For countless stories are told informally and often within the smaller circles of family friends on how resistance did achieve something, and even if to give bread and some money to prisoners being taken away.

We have now the shameful event in Egypt with 528 people sentenced to death at one stroke. The death penalty is thought of wrongly as being a force of deterrence when it is in fact an expression of revenge for even daring to question the power which seeks to determine what is right, what is wrong. Always things go terribly wrong when politics is confused with morality, even though politics without morality and an ethical vision is impossible. Yet in the confusion of fights and due to much corruption, moral standards and human rights are neglected and no longer safeguarded as they should be when we are still conscious of what it means to be responsible parents and we do everything to safeguard the lives of our children. But suddenly people alter and become tools of fanatical movements, whether in Crimea or in Afghanistan. This world has seen so many people being killed for no reason whatsoever, and this is the most frightening thing in the 21st century, it has come even to the point that people simply enjoy killing. Somehow this hatred of life has to be re-translated back into a consciousness of what pain is caused by love for life. Yes, all of us love life and therefore it is most terrible to see life slipping away every second. We cannot hold onto it and we do know there is death who is like the player who never loses. It is a huge task to bring about such love of life that we do not mistake this pain - a human pain to be shared with all - with a pain apparently caused by the other not heeding sufficiently our 'ego', and thus due to all the insecurities we become unsure on how the other really regards us. From there many more mechanisms begin to work in a subversive and negative way, till jealously and failures become a mixed bag of wrong motives all fuelling the desire to revenge ourselves for what we think has deprived us of this love for life.

So it would be most important for you to initiate such a discussion that all sides take note and begin to respect this as it will show a way out of this dangerous spiral towards just more violence.

Glad to hear that you have found a solution for the canvas inside of Lebanon.

With warmest regards





Dear Hatto, dear all,

I had a meeting today with the director of my institute and I discussed with him, on a large scale, my thoughts in regards to the Kids' Guernica – Guernica Youth project, since he will be helping me initiate a new action in the end of April. Hopefully we won't face any problems that might force us to postpone it.

The Kids' Guernica – Guernica Youth project will start two days before the Peace Event and will be finished in the day of the event. Two weeks before the event we will start contacting schools; the schools that are located within the area of the conflicts and the schools whose students lived the fear and suffered from those fights.

My objective is not to change the thinking of those behind the conflicts (the heads and leaders) because they know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. It will be hopeless to change them. But my objective is to weaken their authority on the people who are following them. My goal is to reach those who lost their houses in the conflicts, those who lost their beloved ones, those who were shot and injured, those innocent civilians who suffered just because they live in one of the two areas of conflict. My aim is to spread awareness among those people and pull them to our side (the side of peace). It is only when those people become aware of the huge problem that those fights lead to, only when they see the big picture from an outsider's view, only when they understand the idea of unity and it's only when they understand that we will always live together as one population that they will start fighting against violence. Then, the followers of those leaders will decrease, thus their authority will weaken, which will hopefully lead to the reduction of those conflicts.

I want youth to take part of this change because they are the building blocks of our society and they are the only ones able to really make the change. They are educated people, but their minds are not yet completely mature, which make them able to grasp new ideas and fight for them. They are revolutionary by their nature.

If we can influence those youth and awaken within them the feeling of loving and accepting the other who comes from a different background, or different religion, who has a different thinking or different political opinion.. then we will find the starting point where we can begin making a change and implanting peace instead of fear.

I would like to share a situation that happened with me today. I was at the institute giving my course when suddenly the school assistant came into the room and told us that we should pack up and go home because the situation might get bad because a Lebanese soldier was shot from a syrian person and the Lebanese army is pursuing the doer. It is ugly how people's lives in Tripoli can be altered due to any situation at any given time. I offered two of my students a ride home because their parents were not able to come. In our way, they were talking and laughing, saying that they were praying a fight would start so that they would go home because they didn't want to study today. How ironic that some would rather people fight so that they could have a rest at home. This kind of thinking I am talking about, this immaturity, this naiveness. I want to alter the thinking of those youth because they are the future, they can make the change, they can lead to peace if they were directed correctly. That is my goal which I will fight to reach because what I heard from my students today killed me from within.

My institute will join the UNESCO Associated Schools, which is really important because we will have a famous and important place to exhibit the painting in after the event is finished.

Glad to share my experience with you all, and will keep you updated with any news.




Athens 28.3.2014

Dear Valia,

the outline you give of the situation in Lebanon, and how you think it is best to face it, this is indeed a very realistic approach. Just two days ago I had Juan from Spain visiting me here in Athens for one day, and during that visit I learned that he had been involved in 'ten years' of mediation between the Spanish government and ETA. Mediation means to bring both sides to the table and have them agree peace can only be achieved by putting into the key board of the piano as well keys with which you can play tunes of redemption. Too often only negative memories dominate, and as you write those willing to be violent, their attitudes are difficult to change. Hence it is much wiser to undermine their basis of support, and rightly so you refer to the youth as being still open minded, less corrupted and therefore willing but also eager to search for a way out of this political and indeed moral crisis.

As to the last example you gave with regards to what those two students remarked when you drove them home, I made a similar experience here in Greece after my daughter experienced the loss of a close school mate. This boy had been the brightest till his parents divorced. Then, his grades dropped and his mother had to take him out of the German-Greek school and put him instead into a Greek only school. He kept saying 'I shall kill my father' for he was deeply hurt, sensitive as he was, and of course, the loss of his closest school friends mattered. At Easter in 2006 we learned while on a Ferry boat taking us back to Athens from Crete where we had our first Kids' Guernica exhibition, that he had died in hospital after an accident. He had together with other boys thrown fire works down an elevator shaft of a building under construction, and then he fell down four floors. I learned then about a ruling in Greek schools, for a class can be exempted from having to write the university entry exams, if someone in their class has committed suicide. This leads children and youth to ask each other who will be willing to sacrifice his or her life to the sake that the entire class does not have to write the exams. Interestingly enough, when I told this to my Greek friend who lives in Berlin, he got angry and denied that such things ever exist. Indeed, there are many denials but these negative truths do exist.

Iman reminded me that she had found in Lebanon materials for the canvas, so I advise if you have not ordered as of yet the canvas in Germany, why not get in touch with her so that she can give you the address of the place where she obtained the material for the canvas.

Also Miriam has returned to Lebanon. She had been studying in Wales, and she would love to join your initiative.

So thanks for your good analysis and outline of how you map a good strategy for Lebanon to find a way out of this senseless infighting. Let everyone play on a piano where the key for redemption is not missing.

Take care




Dear Hatto,

I would like to give you some updates regarding the new action in Tripoli.

I was trying to find the perfect date for the project. We are now in the final school weeks and I want the students who participate to put all their potentials into the project. I don't want them to be concerned about studying for their final exams. So finally, I found that Saturday May 17, 2014 and Sunday May 18, 2014 are the best days for the project. We sent the invitations to all schools in Tripoli, focusing on those which were close to the area of the fights, and by Monday May 12, 2014 we will have the full list of the students who will participate. I believe we will have a great number of participants.

Meanwhile, I am having meetings with Art teachers who will participate in the event to discuss the process and the content of the workshops/activities that we will do on those two days. I am also working on the media coverage. I want all the people in Lebanon to know about this peace project, hoping that this will awaken their conscience and will stimulate the urge to act to spread peace all over the country.

I am very enthusiastic and also optimistic about this project.

I will of course send you photos of the event along with a written report and the name of the participants.

With your wished and your support I believe that we will reach our goal.

A special note to Iman since I didn't hear from her yet: I would be pleased to have you with us. It is because of you that now I am making this new action. Your presence is the essential factor to make this project successful. I would be glad to hear from you regarding your participation.

Best regards,



Athens 9.5.2014

Dear Valia,

thanks for informing us all and for letting us participate from a distance in your efforts. Immediately after having read your letter, I asked myself what would be important for you and the others since the situation Lebanon is anything but easy. Most of all it is important when you shall meet, that people feel free to discuss. Naturally to do something intensively over just two days when the painting process of a mural should take time, and even weeks, if not months, in order to experience the positive impact of this collaborative learning process, that is a huge challenge. From Iman I have learned to perceive your reality as being constituted by a 'schizophrenia of peace' with people enjoying themselves in cafes on the one side of the street and bombs going off on the other side. People need clarity in terms to know how to face the situation they are in. Here various reflections by all those who are involved in Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth can help. Just yesterday I talked with Bernard Conlon in Belfast who described to me the situation there. Explosive situations are produced by some being unemployed and not seeing that they have a chance to get out of this dismal state of affairs, while others are bored with life since they have virtually all the material means at at their disposal. In other words, social development has been affected by a culture of consumption becoming increasingly so a culture of discrimination. That is a far cry away from what Iman would say about the culture in Lebanon having a vitality of its own and a strong sense of beauty linked to a deep love of life. Perhaps you can give us an idea of the agenda you are preparing for the two days to know what topics you shall touch upon. Perhaps some of us can then make a small contribution in the form of thoughtful letters addressing these points, so that you can compare inside and outside views. For we need in future a better understanding in the world we all live in.

With warmest regards and all the best for your efforts



Wed, May 14, 2014

Hi Valia,

I hope my email finds you well and that you are going forward in your life and actions as you planned for.

I had wrote quick email to Hatto giving my number in case you need any advice as I am very busy and I will be out of town for the days of the process of the peace action in Tripoli.

As I read you did very well by planning and coordinating and I wish you all the best.

I shall send you my mobile and home phone numbers.

Take care






Dear Iman,

Thank you so much for your support. I've been very busy the past few days studying for few tests as I am applying for a grad school. I will of course contact you in case I have any concerns or need an advice.

I have some bad news to inform you and Hatto. I'm been contacted now and told that the number of participating schools is very low, which will oblige us to postpone the project. Although we tried hard to make the project before the exam dates, some schools seem to have their exams earlier. It's impossible for us to continue with the project with little participating. The concept behind all this work is to have a much participating students as possible. For this reason, the best thing to do is to postpone the project for 2 months until all exams are finished, including the official exams. And then we will have more time to work with students on the project instead of making a 2 day project.

If you have any suggestions for me please let me know, I would appreciate your help.



Athens 16.5.2014

Dear Valia,

this is not bad news, but the kind of learning process we all go through. If I may give an advice, Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth starts from even just one person like you or Iman, and then you gather around you some reliable people to support you along with a few children. Once the action starts, the children will attract their parents and friends, and thus out of a small cultural action there will emerge a community wide one. If you try from the beginning for big numbers to participate in, then you are no longer in tune with what makes the Kids' Guernica experience so valuable, namely the collaborative learning process kept informal like when children just gather themselves to learn from each other. Remember the song of Louis Armstrong, 'but that you don't learn at school'. Participation means sharing and entering decision processes together on how to use the huge space that each canvas offers. So when you restart two months from now, then think in terms of twenty, maximum fourty participants. Naturally when Fatema did the mural in Kabul, Afghanistan, all the school children wanted to join in, all 200 of them, so they had to stand line since not all could paint at one and the same time. If you wish to have as many schools as possible to participate, then you need some coordination between the various schools and another way for all to participate. Here I would propose to think about the concept of intercultural learning: each school adopts one mural to learn from e.g. by going to the website and then adopting one from Gezoncourt, France or from Gent, Belgium. The children can find out about the conditions under which the children and youth there live, and what is their idea about peace. There are so many different variations. When Manual Gonzales visited San Sebastian and told them the story about how his father was sent off by his parents for adoption, and this together with his brother after Guernica had been bombed in 1937, the children grasped immediately the story and transformed it into the question, but what would we do now if we had lost everything like Manuel's father? Intercultural learning would imply each school does like a brother or sister an own mural in answer to the one they have adopted. In that way, you can prepare each school to participate in an exhibition, that is when each school brings its mural to the place where the exhibition can be held. Naturally this requires another scale of organization and an idea about how to bring people together. I am sure with your good ideas and with the advise of Iman, and given now that there is more time available to prepare, for sure you shall come up with an alternative solution.

Thanks for informing us



Final launch of the action in Tripoli, Lebanon




Dear Hatto, dear all,


I would like to inform you that the Kids Guernica - Guernica Youth project in Tripoli, Lebanon is finally launched !


Today, August 23, 2014 is the 1st year anniversary of the bombing of the 2 mosques (Takwa and Salam) in Tripoli, which was called the "biggest and deadliest" bombing in Tripoli since the end of Lebanon's civil war. 50 people were killed and more than 1000 were injured in this bombing. This painful memory motivated an association called Cross Arts Cultural Association to create a painting event to express Tripoli's condemnation of the bombing in a positive and civilized method. This event should be considered as the first step to the launching of the new Kids Guernica - Guernica Youth project in Tripoli. Cross Arts is an association concerned with developing children and youth's skills in multiple aspects and empowering these children and youth to stand against violence and societal separation. It's key element is to develop a more effective and dynamic generation by engaging them into cultural activities, workshops and art events. (www.crossartlb.org)


We created a team of motivated youth to work on our new project. Each person of this team was of course affected by the bombing. Whether or not we lost a person, or our house was damaged, we all felt something towards this painful event. We want to express our feelings, our thoughts, our disapproval, our positive ideas, our motive, our unification.. and everything we have inside. We want all people (especially leaders and politicians) to know that nothing will kill our souls and our love for life. We will fight with words, we paint and with actions, hoping that this will someday awaken the conscience of all the people to stand unified in front of aggression of any kind.


We bought the canvas and prepared all the materials needed and we started working on the project. Hopefully, the project will be accomplished by the end of next week. I will document each step of the project and will of course send it to you, Hatto, to put it on the website.


I am so excited that I was finally able to start this project after the multiple failed attempts in the past few months.


I will keep you all updated with any news regarding the project.


Warmest regards,

Valia Mouheich


Athens 23.8.2014

Dear Valia,

that is not only good news, but as well a good coincidence. For we shall organize in Valletta, Malta on Sept. 7th a poetry reading with the title "In Search of Peace". Many different poets from around the world are expressing their deep concern about the increase in violence. For instance, Satchi states the following:

Albert Camus once said the central problem of the twentieth century was suicide. I am afraid the central problem of the twentieth century was and of the twenty first century is homicide or genocide by which I mean the massive destruction of life and the conditions of life by various forces that promote violence of all sorts and makes the ideal of peace more and more unrealisable. Global imperialism,predatory capitalism, religious fundamentalism, jingoistic nationalism, patriarchal domination, hierarchies of caste and class and race, irrational terrorism, have all contributed to this escalation of violence in our time whose outbursts we find across nations today. The battle for peace is multi-dimensional as it is a fight against all these forces, a fight to restore humaneness to the humankind. Arts , including poetry which is the highest of verbal arts, have a definite role to play here as it creates higher states of mind and triggers lofty notions of life and beauty even while dealing with the ugly and the humdrum.
K. Satchidanandan ( Indian poet writing in Malayalam)


Given his and many other texts and poems, I think we can conjoin this as poetry and the peace murals go hand in hand as only children know best when making friends.

In that regards, I forward to you my poem written today in preparation for the reading in Malta, and which you may convey to those trying to remember the horrific event which gripped Tripoli one year ago, and which Iman Moussad described to me as mothers calling for their children but knowing fully well they shall never come home.

Hatto Fischer


Things washed ashore

What is it like to ride inside a hurricane

when the earth is in upheaval and not merely rain falls,

but oceans spill over shores to leave behind devastations?

Asks the child, who has never seen the ocean become so angry,

if Odyssey could outwit Poseidon to return to Ithaca,

what cure have then the men since now without Gods,

they face alone a world wishing to ban peace forever?

Relentless feelings seem to have whipped up that storm

bending trees to the ground and smashing windows.

Now that all the glass is gone, the beach can be seen

as being cluttered with many things washed ashore,

including shoes and diaries never finished by drowned sailors.

Many just wait for something coming out of nowhere

like an ambush of love to make up for all the loss of time.

But by high noon silence curls up like the black cat gone sleepy

over waiting for an answer from the men who had gone

to face the wars tearing apart fragile human beings

for no other reason but to mock mankind's vulnerability.

When will they return, asks again the child, now perplexed

by silence having become adults no longer speaking truthfully

why they failed to prevent wars from ravishing again earth.

If the answer lies forgotten amongst the things washed ashore,

then much more has gone missing since the boats left

in search of a new fleece, but what to do if not back in time?

For images are conjured up of fierce men about to hang peace

by putting a noose around the neck and the rope over a naked branch

swayed by a wind of rumours coming in from a now darkened sea.

Again the voice of the child can be heard saying, it wants to help

those who are stricken and forsaken, but because it cannot see blood

detours in the studies are needed before becoming a psychiatrist only

realizable, if not estranged from timelessness peace needs to prevail.

Hatto Fischer


In wishing you and everyone in Tripoli such an experience which can be conveyed to others so that peace prevails,

I look forward to receive the documentation to be put up on the website.

With warmest regards





Dear Hatto,
Wow! such a great poem. Well I'm not a poet, but I adore poetry and I love to write just to express what I feel on the moment.
I would appreciate if there is a possibility to share those poems with us after the event.
I am coming to France to attend school again for Masters and will be in Paris from September 5, so I will definitely love to attend future events of Kids Guernica - Guernica Youth.
I wrote something yesterday after I read your email. I would love to share it with you all.
In search of peace, we wonder why?
why do people kill, while they are born?
why to destroy, while we could build?
why follow others, while we could lead?
lead our country to set it free
why make me cry, while I could smile?
why to keep silent, while we have voices?
why to get lost, while we have choices?
why getting blind, while we have eyes?
why to choose hate, while we own hearts?
hearts that won't break when full of love
why to make war, while peace is here?
isn't it enough? why is there greed?
life is so short, why make it void?
wake up your conscience and let peace deploy.
V.M. 23.08.2014
I believe this project will be a great step for us, Tripolitarians and Lebanese in general, because the team I am working with is as excited and enthusiastic as I am about integrating children and youth in an effective way into social and cultural events to develop a more enlightened generation.
My best regards to you all,
Valia Mouheich


Athens 24.8.2014
Dear Valia,
that is a beautiful, indeed poetic answer.
Your questions relate the search for peace to what had been the key source of knowledge in Ancient Greece, namely not problems or the need to have success, but wonder about life itself. How why what exists? The butterfly, the leaves on a tree...
Moreover the link between Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth and poetry may bring about a new kind of synthesis.
I have already put up on the website the brief description of the start of the project, the photo and now the poem you have sent. This can be found at
As your action comes at a crucial time with regards to what is happening in the Middle East, including the war going on in Syria, the outbreak of many kinds of vicious violences in Iraq and elsewhere, along with what is happening in Gaza, we can always refer to the political message Picasso gave on behalf of innocent people who are killed arbitrarily as had been the case of Guernica 1937 through 'Guernica'.
I have placed the reports of your action now on the website of Poiein kai Prattein, and this under the general heading of 'efforts in Middle East'. It includes what Iman Nouri has done already with her actions in Tripoli to set this crucial tone about all of us living in a 'schizophrenia of peace'.
So you can refer all the participants of your action to the website with one request since some may be sensitive to have their faces be shown. Please ask for their consent when making the documentation.
Efforts in Middle East
As for your forthcoming trip to Paris, there is Gerold Schumann, director of the theatre de la Vallee who is initiating a Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth project to remember that time span crucial for understanding European history, namely 1914-1918 when First World War brought home the brutal lessons of war. Since we have entered this time span 2014-2018 and when Valletta in Malta shall be European Capital of Culture in 2018, this kind of memory work is crucial for future generations to understand history out of the perspectives that these peace murals can convey.
You should also get in touch with Jad Salman who is studying in Paris and doing his artistic PhD.
If you are going to do your Masters there, I imagine you will be there for at least two years. During that time I am sure we will have many more interactions. Juan in Madrid wants to organize a Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth meeting in near future, and Bernard Conlon in Belfast along with Alexandra Zanne in Gezoncourt, Ines Dulay Winkler active in Tübingen, Germany and Christa Kleinbub preparing with her former school in Mannheim, Germany an action in Togo, Africa next February active as well, you will have plenty of contacts forthcoming.
With best regards and thanks again for your poetic questions

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