|Yahiya Donzo's "Where I'm From" Poem & Art|
Last night, Lossine sent me a copy of his cousin's poem (and artwork). I took a moment to type it here as a reflection of my doctoral work in Syracuse - "A Responsibility To Speak Out". It's been four years since I collected data and three years since I began writing about relocated youth arriving to the United States from refugee camps in Africa. The reality of our lives is not the reality of millions overseas.
Today, I am speaking at Fairfield University as part of my ongoing work and quest to make a difference (if only a little ripple at a time). Thank you, Yahiya, for reminding us of where you're from and thank you, Lossine, for sharing his work with me. It is timely and a reminder of why I am doing what I'm doing.
Where I'm From ~Yahiya Donzo
I am from hatred, biases, evil, war and dark black hearts.
I am from where Muslims and Christians
fight like bloods and crips
where you are killed for practicing the wrong religion.
I am from the jungles full of exotic, wild and dangerous animals,
where every move you make
and anything you say is critical and dangerous
I am from a place where it’s either kill or be killed.
I am from where you need a third eye
on the back of your head as a telescope.
I am from war.
I am from where pride and dignity are considered as respect.
I am from a house full of love, respect, pride, talent, and good food.
I am from where guns are handed out as Christmas presents
and 8 year olds are considered men
and given guns to go to war
and thought to act like men, not little boys.
I am from a country where it rains bullets instead of water,
where the sun is blazing hot and lands are dry as the Sahara Desert
and where people are dying from thirst, hunger and emptiness
faster than flowers that haven’t been watered for weeks.
I am from where education means the world to children
so meaningful that they are willing to kill for it.
I am from where a penny is considered gold, water is life,
education is power and the richest are gods.
I am from Liberia
where there are caves,
skies are dark
and rivers are red.
I am from a city filled with infinite crying and horror,
where you see 7 year old boys and girls
mourning their parents and other loved ones
that wander towards death.
I am from war.
I am from the loud noise of AK-47s, 28 Calibers, grenades and bullets flying.
I am from where people break dance to the beat of gun shots under their feet.
I am from short sleeves and long sleeves.
I am from war.
I am from where great warriors become bitches and rats
just to get the chance to kiss their wives and kids
and pray to God to see what tomorrow has to offer.
I am from where snitching is needed in order to survive.
I am from hatred, biases, evil, love, war and dark black hearts.
I am from land filled with delicious foods and fruits.
I am from a country that’s good and evil.
I am from a land of competition.
I am from the land of gold and diamonds.
I am from the jungle of exotic wild and dangerous creatures.
I am from a country of fear, greed, sorrow, hunger and horror.
I AM FROM HEAVEN AND HELL.