News / Africa

Misrata Volunteers Help Libyan Children Cope with Wounds of War

Scott Bobb

Of all the Libyan cities that endured the fighting between pro- and anti-Gadhafi forces, Misrata, lying on the central Libyan coast, suffered the most. An estimated 2,000 people were killed and 6,000 wounded. The shelling and weeks without water or electricity were hard on all, but especially on the children.

Fun and games

Every night Misrata's main square is filled with children. There are games, skits and music, all for their entertainment. The buildings around the square are stark. Most of them are dark. Several have been gutted by fire.

For a month they were infested by pro-Gadhafi snipers who shot without discrimination at fighters, civilians, men, women and children. Anti-Gadhafi forces eventually killed them after a month of heavy fighting.

At one end of the square lie the twisted remains of several tanks. They are now painted with the red, black and green colors of the flag of the new Libya.

During the months of fighting between supporters and opponents of Moammar Gadhafi, some 2,000 residents of this small city were killed, 6,000 were wounded.

Traumatized

The violence left many of the children traumatized, some unable to speak, others unable to sleep because of nightmares.

Others appear to be healthy, chanting for a free Libya at the top of their lungs.

Children play in the main square where there are nightly games, skits and music to entertain them, which are organized by volunteers, and supported by businesses and civic groups, to lift the children's spirits, September 2011.
Children play in the main square where there are nightly games, skits and music to entertain them, which are organized by volunteers, and supported by businesses and civic groups, to lift the children's spirits, September 2011. (VOA photo)

Mahmoud Abu Dabuss, 36, is an electrician and father of three. He and other volunteers organize nightly festivities to lift the children's spirits. Initially they paid for everything themselves but now they get support from businesses and civic groups.

He says it all started one day when he brought some big speakers and put on some Quranic verses and the national song for an hour or so. He says the children started coming around and liked it so he decided to do it every night to make some fun for the kids.

Ali Shinab brings his children here every night. He says the children spent hours under chairs which were the safest places to be during the fighting.

“During the fighting the children were in a bad situation, crying. They were afraid. They stopped eating. They weren't aware where their father was,” Shinab recalls.

Support group

He says the parties help take their minds off what they experienced. Some of the healthier children have formed a support group that tries to help those who are suffering.

Abu Dabuss says the children were also exposed to graphic images of the violence on television. This aggravated their stress.

He says he had to come here and do it for the kids. He wants them to forget Gadhafi, forget the war and forget the bombs and rockets.

Leila, 7, sings a popular song about Misrata's ordeal.

The children are looking forward now to the start of the new school year on September 17. Their parents are too. They hope it will help ease the bad memories that, they fear, could last a lifetime.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid