Zainab, Afghanistan

Dear world,

This is Zainab Azizi from Afghanistan. I am 19 years old. I am writing this to you on behalf of many, many others who think the same like me but don’t have the opportunity to write it to you. 
I live in a place where even living at home has become hard just because in every moment there is the possibility of an explosion and war. I live in a country where there is war among many tribes. It is a place where many treasures, mines and beautiful rivers can be found but none of them are left in peace. Dear world, I know how injured and torn apart you are. I know that you are crying deep down inside like a baby that knows nothing. It is crystal clear how all those things that you needed like politics, religion and science could bring you to these days.

Yes, you needed science, technology and religion for all those of the creatures living on you. It was essential for them to have faith and live with belief in religion, science or technology. However, regardless of all these essential fields, for you—my world—their politics are blind. Many do not understand the beauty and strength of these fields. However, their ideas do not provide co-existence and are destroying us all and you. For instance, the wars in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and my own country leave many of us injured, dead and in parts.

I hear about your cries, injuries, and dead bodies everyday and night. I hear about your wishes and all those traumas that living creatures are passing on you. I heartily understand your traumas, both spiritual and physical. Especially, after the attack that happened in front of me on my campus, American University of Afghanistan, which left many, many of us injured and dead. I think more and more about you, dear friend! I think about you because of the knowledge, open mindedness and education that some people are lacking. It is the acceptance, respect and beautiful side of each other that we should seek.

I want you to know this is no fault of yours. It is okay to have different nations, cultures, seas, rivers, mountains and religions. Although in some parts they are bringing you war, I believe they also show your real beauty. All these differences expose that you have the strength of the universe.

But above all we see and listen about you everyday and hear about all these wounds, dead bodies and wars. I wish you peace and prosperity. We, the new generation, will lead you to better days and nights in peace. You are our hope as we are yours.

This little injured soul will never give up on bringing you the better days that you deserve. My world, I am for you and you are for me, together we will shine beautifully.

Yours,

Zainab Azizi

Afghanistan

Juslin, Gaza

juslin

Dear world,

I am Juslin Akram, a 16-year-old from Palestine, Gaza. Palestine is an Arab country in the Middle East that has been occupied by Israeli army’s since 1948 and still is today. For Palestinians, peace is different. You feel helpless when so many young women and men die in war, when most of your people suffer from poverty, when people —especially women—do not even have their basic rights and struggle to survive.

For us, peace is not being attacked and not living in a war zone. Peace is not hearing the sounds of bombs constantly and not seeing little kids lose their families to war. Peace is being safe wherever you go and living without the fear of being killed or bombed at any second. For Palestinians, peace is being able to safely pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

For us, peace is having the basic necessities of life. Peace is access to electricity and pure water without daily cutout. Peace is equality between men and women. Finally, peace is when we have our FREEDOM!

Personally, I have passed through three wars, lived every detail of them and heard the sound of every bombing. I know how it feels to run from your home. The whole world needs peace in all its ways and definitions! So let’s unite to spread peace all around the world.

Sincerely,

Juslin Akram

Palestine

Mariem, Tunisia

Dear World,

Deciding to eat that apple, Adam and Eve, the first humans that visited earth, left eternal peace to join a world where the word “peace” is just another word found in books, speeches and dreams.

The story of Adam and Eve makes me think that this world was never meant to be at peace. Today, the news shows war growing in this world, like parasitic weeds in our gardens, harming and destroying its flowers.

It feels like there is no hope anymore. How is it possible to find peace in a world corrupted by all kinds of weapons: pollution, wars, racism, sexism, poverty, hunger… and the list is still long.

Yet, the answer to this problem is simple. We just need to look at ourselves and see how we still wake up every day to work, study, travel, party, laugh, cry… to live! No matter what, all humans wake up every day hoping for a better today and a better tomorrow. All humans, no matter how different they are, seek the same thing: true happiness!

But what is true happiness without a peaceful world?

True happiness and peace is a world where human life is worth more than petrol, a world where no child has to wonder whether he is going to die from hunger or from the next bomb explosion, a world where people don’t have to fight over a loaf of bread or a drop of water, a world where everybody has a shelter they can call home.

I wish to live in a world where I don’t have to beg others not to pollute their earth and where nature protects us and does not harm us. I wish to live in a world where humans don’t turn the eco-system upside down just to have more money.

Why can’t we be ourselves and follow the path drawn for us by nature? After all, we were all created the same way. We all entered this world in the same way, out of a mother’s womb. Can’t we just be equal?

No one will be considered better than the other just because he or she was born in that country, or has a particular color of skin, or belongs to a specific religion, or is the descendent of a certain family. Our differences should form our strength and not our weakness.

I dream of a world where no boundaries limit humans and we all belong to the same nation: the world!

The word racism will then disappear and stay just as a word found in dictionaries describing an awful behavior of our ancestors. War will then see its end, as a horrific act where people kill people in the name of protection and freedom. Humans torturing other humans, destroying their houses, raping women and stealing their children’s innocence over a piece of land or a liter of petrol or a different religion is shameless and abominable. Why should he die so that you can have a better life? Remember, we are all equals.

Being equals also means that a man is not considered better than a woman just because he has a slightly different body! Men should be respectful to all women and vice versa.

Peace will reign when everybody learns to accept and respect others no matter how different they are. But first, peace will reign when people learn to accept and love themselves just the way they are, no matter what other people think of them.

The perfect vision of peace will start to see the light when Martin Luther King’s dream comes true, when Gandhi’s sacrifices don’t go in vain and when unity becomes the symbol of the world.

Yours,

Mariem Oueslati

Age 23, 
Tunisia

Sondos, Egypt

Dear World,

”You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. I hope someday you will join us. And the world will live as one.” -John Lennon.

My name is Sondos and I am a 15-year-old girl from Egypt. Hearing in the news about the various conflicts happening in almost every country has become normal. A feeling of shame usually haunts me, as I am being unable to solve this issue. There are indeed people who wish to stop this global war and pursue peace including me, but how could we achieve this goal?

In order to do that, we should get rid of all the hatred we surround ourselves with. Take for instance, a quarrel that occurs between two neighbors due to hatred, jealousy, or envy. It may be simple, but a modest quarrel might lead to a civil war. That is how it works. Do you see my point? We should live joyfully and look for inner peace as it helps in reaching our aim of worldwide peace.

Consequently, I see that each person has a specific role in creating this vision. Women, for example, should plant the term of peace in their children’s daily life. Most men also should stop seeking power because this is the main reason for these conflicts. Youth should participate in different worldwide activities in order to make friends, exchange cultures and spread awareness of creating peace. Moreover, social media can be a platform to discuss solutions to obtain a peaceful world.

Personally, I am doing my best to create peace among people who surround me. However, I will not succeed alone. I need you to smile, forgive, love and search for happiness in the tiniest things. Stop violence, racism and help make the world a better place. Let us all live as one.

Yours truly,

Sondos Hesham Egypt

Victoria, Belgium

victoria-van-grotenhuis

Dear world,

How would it be to live in a world where homeless people don’t have to seek for food any longer?

How would it be if every child around the world were able to pursue his own dreams of education?

How would it be if peace were as normal as breathing?

I believe in peace and a better world. It is only a matter of time and understanding until we truly see the beauty of it.

I’m Victoria, an economics student who believes money can’t buy everything, definitely not peace. As a 20-year-old European woman I’ve been confronted with people who never had to fight in their lives to get accommodation, food or even clean water. This problem struck me when one day a black homeless man around 24 years old came up to me. I was peacefully jogging and totally unaware until he stood in front of me. He didn’t ask for money. Water and food were his only request. It is as simple as that. We sometimes forget about those who didn’t have the luck to grow up in this carefree life.

Poverty is one of the biggest causes of war and conflicts in the world. Do not forget that children are the biggest victims of it. Of course their mothers are impacted too. The biggest challenge of all is to not give up and help one another through this search for peace. If we work together we will surely make this world better than it already is.

We are still young. We have a lot to learn and we carry our pocket full of dreams with us. We can make a difference with little steps. Together, all the steps we take make beautiful stairs to climb to this top called peace.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

Thank you very much,

Victoria van Grotenhuis

Age 20, Belgium

Kayla, USA

Dear World,

More and more often, when I read the news I see reports of sexual violence. In my own country, the United States, and in countries all over the world people are subjected to harassment, rape, and murder because of their genders and sexualities. People are forced into marriages and sexual relationships, prostituted and trafficked. People are denied contraception, forced into pregnancies and abortions, and unwillingly sterilized.

More and more often, when I read the news I see reports of perpetrators of sexual violence going unpunished for their crimes.

To use a recent example, rapist Brock Turner was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault. In addition to registering as a sex offender, he could have served fourteen years in prison for these charges, but he was only sentenced to six months and only served three. Judge Aaron Persky stated that a longer prison sentence would have “a severe impact” on Turner.

Turner’s case is exceptional—not because of the relative slap on the wrist Turner received, but because his case had eyewitnesses and went to court.

There are so many cases of sexual violence that do not have witnesses and do not go to court. Our failure to hold perpetrators accountable is unacceptable.

However, I believe that our societies can change.

I work for this change by speaking out. I work for this change by voting for representatives that are concerned with these issues and contacting representatives who could be doing more. I work for this change by supporting and donating to organizations that help those impacted by sexual violence. I work for this change by listening to the voices of others, educating myself about perspectives and experiences that are different from mine, and striving to live with empathy.

I ask you to work for this change with me.

If you are able to speak out, participate in your government, or donate to charities, please do so. But whether or not you are able to do those things, I ask you to work for this change with me by listening to different voices, educating yourself, and being empathetic.

Together, we can make our world a more peaceful place.

Kayla Allen

Age 22, USA

Fatima-Zohra,
 Morocco

Dear World,

I am Fatima-Zohra El Ferd and I am from Taza, Morocco.

I have a dream. My dream is to see peace painting the face of everyone around me. I believe in my dream. Please, do not tell me my dream as impossible and do not say that I am unrealistic. Possibilities are our reason for existing. Many songs, poems, articles, and speeches are flying around my mind embodying messages of peace. I just wish that every single word would land on the ground and turn into a fact or a real life situation.

I cannot escape the dark images of the bloody actions and violence, and I am overwhelmed with enormous feelings of pain and anger. Let us say every single moment that war, conflicts, poverty, death, injustice, racism, oppression, and egoism go hand in hand with depression, diseases, violence, abuse, discrimination and cruelty. I do not want to be heavy with all these words, but we cannot simply pass them by.

We can build peace. We can find our own peace. We can be giving trees. We can be helping hands. We can bring harmony back to our life and play the peace symphony to every individual around us. To quote John Lennon, “You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” My dream is common. It brings the world together and shows that our diversity embodies our unity. We must all have a hand in building peace and strongly believe that we can make change.

Every entity in this universe should enjoy peace. But we cannot talk about making peace without talking about women. Through the lines of this letter, I will try to be the voice of many women around the world. I wish my words to find their way to the hearts and minds of its readers, not just a moving script in front of their eyes.

Pictures of women in many situations keep raining over me. Images of moms singing and chanting to help their kids to sleep peacefully or forget about their hunger and fear, songs full of life and promises of a better tomorrow. Women making their bodies shields to protect their kids and families from danger. Women as mothers pretending they are full and cannot eat to share their part with their kids, husbands or other members. Women pretending they are happy and satisfied to bring stability to their homes. Women sharing the warmth of their bodies to protect their crying babies from rain and freezing weather. There are so many pictures that illustrate women’s sacrifice and self-denial. They are family and community centered.

Despite all their giving, most women are denied access to the process of creating peace. We cannot talk about achieving peace if half of the population is facing exclusion and discrimination.

Women and children are targets of armed conflicts, marginalization, poverty and psychological disorder. It is a very common image to see women in refugee camps. They are also vulnerable to violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, lack of education and lack of physical security. Women are imprisoned in a very traditional frame of roles and responsibilities. All these factors lead to disorder in their communities.

Women should move from victimization into leadership positions. Women need men and the whole community to support and collaborate to make a better life.

We must support women to act as peacemakers around the world, especially in conflict zones. It is high time to fight for our rights. We need respect for our life choices and more opportunities. Most women have been left out of the most important dialogues about peace. We need to listen to the peace building stories of women. Many women need to be recognized and celebrated for their hard work to create peace. We must establish space for women’s civil society and empower and protect the ones who bear the heavy burden of war. We should trust women’s ability in negotiations, in addition to institutionalizing gender equality and reinforcing their local capacity to support of women’s leadership. Women must be willing to take new directions and paths to generate power.

Some men are, and many more should be, partners with women. To reach peace, we have to find it among ourselves and build it between men and women. We should highlight the efforts of men who advocate in support of women. Still, too many people consider men’s violence and dominance against women as a normal act. Giving a new definition to men’s roles and duties will give a new shape to peace in a healthy community. They must take part in the solution since they took part in the problem. We call to men to create safe relationships and stand up against objectification and violence against women. Our community should support men who are willing to stop women’s exploitation. We cannot escape the fact that many decision makers and leaders are men and then they are invited to give hand to women around.

We have to shed light on the importance of empowering youth to work as agents for moral, social and financial support to prevent gender-based violence and establish peace. Youth can make change while adopting and adapting the healthy norms and decisions.

I hope every country will make use of its resources and its people’s power to create a great vision: Peace. Through love, we can make it!

Thank you, World.

I am looking forward to hearing from you Peace.

Best Regards,

Peace Dreamer and Maker,

Fatima-Zohra El Ferd,
Taza,Morocco

 

Wevly, Haiti

 

Dear World,

My name is Wevly Thibeaud. I am 19 years old and I am from Haiti.

Haiti is a small country where there is a lot of suffering. Children sleep on the street and some of them don’t go to school. The rights of women are not respected. There are many people who still live under tents since the earthquake of January 2010. I have never shared my feelings about the way I saw people trying to overcome misery in Haiti. And now I feel that it is time.

It is our turn to lift our voice the world, as women and men. I fear and worry about the future of this world, against the decadence of the today. We need to stop living in our past victory of heroes we all study at school, in museums and so on. We need to put what we have learned from our heroes into action, in the world that they created for us.

Imagine a peaceful future, without fighting and violence, without discrimination against each other, without a desire to fight a war for power. We all have a right to a peaceful future, in which we are happy, where all children are going to have a chance to have a family. We all have the right to a future in which we are educated, in which we help one another, where compassion, love, respect, and empathy guide us to a peaceful future.

To realize that vision, we must each have our own mission. Women need to be confident, engaged in society and within the government, because as women we have powerful things to say to the world. We need to participate in politics and social affairs.

Men need to stop giving orders to women. They need to initiate dialogue that ends in compromise. Men need to recognise women’s capacity in the social and political fabric of society and of this country. Men must be more integrated within their communities, instead of acting as individuals, only interested in advancing themselves.

Young people need to go to school and to believe in themselves. They need to have goals and believe in a better world. They need to understand that they play a crucial role in this world and that their knowledge and their active participation in social affairs of their communities will advance our country in the long run.

Personally, I think that in order to create this vision, I must participate in the education of my fellow citizens here in Haiti. I must raise awareness and encourage people to understand that we cannot use violence to advance life, because violence destroys people; violence destroys families, it destroys dreams. It is with peace that we can build our nation and make it stronger. We are all agents of change in this world. It is only after we all go against the evil that gnaws at the world, that we will come together and we will put our hands together to build a vision of the future that is one of peace.

Wevly Thibeaud,

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Sulaf, Gaza

sulaf-ghanim

Dear world,

My name is Sulaf Ghanim, and I am a 19-year-old girl. I was born and raised in the Gaza Strip, which is about 60 kilometers from the village of Hatta from which my grandparents were forced out and became refugees.

I see the world in colors and love people regardless of their faith, color, sexual orientation or political views. My biggest dream is to see the people of the world living in peace and harmony.

During my 19 years on this planet I have lived through three wars. I live under the constant treat of another one. It is exhausting! What makes me sad is to see my city turned into a big prison. My family and I are not allowed to travel outside of the Gaza Strip for any reason including medical treatment or higher education. I was accepted to the pre-medical school in Cairo but due to the siege on my city I could not travel and pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. I have always wanted to be a pediatrician and help the poor children of my city.

I have a dream of waking up one day to a free Palestine. A free Palestine in which I can travel to other cities and enjoy the mountains in the north on a hot summer day or travel to my holy city of Jerusalem and pray for world peace.

When I close my eyes, I dream of a day and a world where everyone reaches out to help others without having any ulterior motives. I dream of a place that has no wars, no killing, no bombing and definitely no suffering. But when I open my eyes I just see wars, smoke, darkness, poverty and ignorance everywhere.

Instead of losing hope I have decided to dedicate my life to improve the lives of my people. Therefore, I have always been active in my community doing community service since I was young. I have defied all the restrictions imposed by traditional social customs that would limit women’s growth and success. Women have to understand they can influence the world positively and their job is not only to raise kids and do housework. As women, we must take on the responsibility of changing our present way of living and thinking and be part of the changes we want to see in this world.

Dear men, what if we stopped fighting to belong and realized that we already belong? What if we acknowledged, in each interaction with ourselves and with others, the eternal, beautiful, interconnected energy that flows between us? What if we recognized our equality and celebrated our differences? Imagine how the world could be.

We need more peace, to stay in harmony with our brethren. We need more understanding to tackle our misunderstandings. We need more justice and less injustice. We need more peacemakers and fewer revolutionaries. Peace will come about in the world from the perfection of individuals. If you have peace, I have peace, he has peace, and she has peace. Then and just then, a world peace would become a reality.

Don’t wait for a better world. Start now to create a world of harmony and peace.

Thank you

Sulaf Ghanim

Sofia, Mexico

Dear World,

My name is Sofia; I have been living here since 1997. I was born and grew up in Mexico. Therefore I can relate what it is to live in a country with two realities. Mexico is a beautiful country. Nevertheless, is facing lot of pressing issues that are interconnected including violence and war.

You realize it in your daily life. Every day in the news you are able to see it, there are always crimes against journalist, teachers, indigenous students, women etc. Nevertheless violence is not only about living with insecurity about our lives, violence is also not having the right to express your opinion. Violence is not having something to eat that day. Violence is not having an appropriate environment. Violence is not having access to education. Violence implicates many aspects of the human life, especially our rights.

Our rights are not respected. The curious thing is that we are not respecting our own rights. It is an interesting phenomenon because it seems we are living as individuals and we are not taking into consideration every person around us. Humans are connected, we are not just a nationality or number, and there is something beyond that. Everybody has feelings and has a history. We should be more conscious of our dependence on each other.

For this reason, I truly believe education would make us conscious and free of violence. However we need an education without attachment. In every culture, people have beliefs and their own way of understanding the world, but sometimes these beliefs only cause more conflict. We should let these barriers go and start to spread an education with the objective to create humans who think critically.

I certainly have faith in women. We have an important role and we should take action to address the world’s problems, recognize our capacity for political and social issues and encourage other women to fight for access to education and believe in themselves.

Finally, peace is not going to happen like a miracle. It is a challenge for everybody but we have an opportunity to demonstrate that we are responsible for our destiny. We should not create an illusion of peace as a utopia, or something we cannot reach. We should be able to create a peace we can see every day, something that is part of our lives, something to fill our souls and motivate us to become the best version of ourselves.

Sofia Abundis Mendivil

19 years-old, Mexico