Portrait of Shai
Shai, Israel

Represents children who grow up in conflict zones and who seek dialogue for peace.

“When I was eight, there were protests for social justice which my family was involved in. This experience changed me and made me much closer to who I am today. I saw a 12-year-old child talk about how we children can make a difference.

In first and second grade I was bullied, which knocked my confidence. In fourth grade I was bullied again, but this time I defended myself using the karate that I had learned. This experience taught me to control myself and my temper, and that I would never want to see someone get hurt as I had been hurt."

“Until third grade my understanding of the situation in Israel was: Arabs are bad and Jews are good. But when I mentioned this to my mother she took out a map and taught me about the conflict. That moment made me understand that there is no good or bad, only two opposing narratives. I try to make my friends and kids around me see that there is no really bad side and good side, and we all need to help end the conflict.

I can’t forget

“However I still cannot forget that I live in a conflict area, the people around me suffer constantly, people from both sides. There is so much death and pain, and I always feel like I have to look over my shoulder. I know, though, that if people could understand what I understood in third grade we will be able to work out something together instead of fighting useless wars. As a child in Israel, I feel that in the grown-up world my hands are a bit tied so I stick with other children and try to convince them to look for peace instead of war.

“My views are very simple: we’re not doing enough. Both sides need to realise that the goal should be peace.”

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