Imagine being six years old, alone, parentless, in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, you have no adult reference points to help you be safe. You are hungry, frightened, alone. Terrifying. Everything you know has been wrenched from you- the world is a yawning chasm of bewilderment and fear.
This is the plight of so many children who are at the receiving end of the world’s crisis’. It was World Refugee Day the other day and it is the children caught up in this trauma that I feel the most for. Children are the future- unspoken potential that could help this world be a brighter, shinier place. This can only happen if ALL children are valued and nurtured. A bright new tomorrow can only happen if we create the right causes. Yet, the world seems to have apathy and often judgement towards refugees. We would all flee if our homes were dust and we had hardly anything to eat and our children were in danger of being bombed as they played.
The refugee crisis is only going to grow as climate change kicks in and the world becomes environmentally and then politically unpredictable so we need to find ways of humanely and sensibly dealing with people on the move.
A few years back I heard that 27 000 children were in Europe, alone and parentless as a result of the crisis in Syria. And, out of that 27 000 , 10 000 had simply vanished…with no trace. This literally sent shudders down my spine. All day that fact haunted me….Europe has Plenty, it is stable, it is supposedly humane. Yet, little was being done to help these precious, vulnerable scraps of life. What could I do? Nothing much.
But, that evening after washing up…with soap suds still drying on my hands, this song downloaded in one fell swoop as a response to this crisis.
Here it is:
When a Child Stands Alone
When a child stands alone
The world’s a darkening place
“For there is no one to see I am special”
A unique jewel of life’s grace.
“And, Oh Mama, where’s your hand
Oh Mama, I’ve lost my heart”.
Now, this is just what happens
When a Child stands Alone.
No one is just a number
No one is chaff in the wind
No one is yesterday’s rubbish
Discarded in time or place
We all have eyes to see them
We all have hearts to give
We all have hands to caress them
And heal their wounded hearts
We all can be Mama and Papa
And hold them till their safe
And help them always remember
They’re a jewel of life’s grace
No more must the world be darkening
A generation lost in space
Let them be the first generation
Held secure and full of Grace
Held secure and full of Grace.
I sent the lyrics to Larry Hurley, who was helping me at that time, with my music. They bizarrely fitted the remit for a Global humanitarian arts competition run by the World Citizens Artists. They were running a competition to help the rubbish dump children in Guatemala…..I even had a line in it about “no one being yesterdays rubbish”! It was like I had written the song for them!
I decided to enter the song in the competition. I had recently had some advice from Mick Glossop, the producer, who is mentoring me. He told me that I needed to explore more instrumentation in my songs so with this in mind, I thought carefully about what would fit this song.
In the end I chose electric guitar, Indian harmonium and harmonica. Together they create a soundscape of a child on a street…crying. A harmonica and a harmonium are also sometimes used as street/busking instruments …so they have that sound flavour and also add a “world” feel. In the instrumental break I wanted a dialogue between the two instruments – for them to mimic a child sobbing and feeling plaintive.
Here is the song:
The song was a finalist- amazing! Recorded in a garden shed too….!
It is my wish that one day this song could soar from obscurity and be used to help children like this. Perhaps it could stir people to give, politicians to create humanitarian and useful processes and systems that would help these people. For people they are – like you and me.
This song is very powerful to perform. I take on “ the sorrow” of the child and in intimate performance space- I reach out to the audience…”becoming” the child and the narrator too.
It has been impactful too from the audiences’ perspective. One women stood up with tears in her eyes and said “ You have sung my childhood- I wish to put that letter in a song and send it to my mother!” And, from another “ That hits me in the heart and profoundly moves me”……and another “You are really story telling , in how you perform this song…..being the child”.
I hope it might reach your heart too- and move you to think, in small ways, what you can do.