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‘My Children’ and me – between Brussels and Cairo

‘My Children’ and me – between Brussels and Cairo

‘My Children’ and me – between Brussels and Cairo

In memory of the victims of the 2016 Brussel’s bombings

An account by a SB OverSeas volunteer who was on the metro during the attacks on 22 March 2016.

– 16 January 2016:

First day of activities with the children: I share their language and their colour amongst other things….However, I chose to be here in Brussels. How many of these children made the same choice?


– February 2016:

Despite the cold, the splendour and the beauty of the sky in Brussels always astonishes me. Do ‘my children’ understand this beauty? Or will Brussels, for them, always be a place of exile?

– 8 March 2016:

Activity: make bags out of papers. The children want to give the most beautiful bags to Mahmoud, their friend who has been sick for nearly a month. I tell myself: when I go to visit him, I will show him the bags, he will be happy.


– 22 March 2016 (9:05):

I am on the metro and will be arriving in a few moments in Maelbeek station. The metro stops, I hear an explosion and I breathe in the smoke. I escaped death in Cairo, but she is looking for me here in Brussels… I will be killed in the name of my faith.

22 March 2016 (9:30) :

I get out of the metro walking between the train lines. Should I be traumatised? Perhaps… how many of ‘my children’ had done much more dangerous journeys before arriving in Brussels? Do they feel death, like I did in Maelbeek? I could understand that, but them? Why should a child see death approaching?

– 25 March 2016:

Mahmoud is dead. He is now in a world more fair, I am sure of it. However, I did not get the chance to give him the bag from his friends.

– 26 March 2016 :

I talk to ‘my children’, try to explain the departure/death of Mahmoud.

‘Mahmoud is happy, he plays, he draws, he no longer suffers, he is with the angels…’.

I explain to them… but how can I explain why his mom is not by his side…How do I explain to them that in Pakistan, in Belgium, in Nigeria, in Irak, in Syria and in Egypt, that dozens are dead, when they could have spread happiness instead.  I could not talk about injustice or inhumanity.

27 March 2016 :

We cancel our activities. Its impossible to move around Brussels. Too risky take transport with the children. Its terrible. My work, my friends, my time is shared between Cairo and Brussels. Now, my pain and the scare of the country as well… was it really necessary?

Hope? Its a word that appears sometimes to be insolent! But it remains… Yes, I am sure… in the grins of ‘my children’ to the volunteers,  without speaking the same language, in the emotions while doing arts & crafts, whilst doing art or whilst singing, in sharing memories of difficult times, in the diversity of our colours, languages, dialects, ideas… Yes, hope remains as long as we all share the same heart that simply wants to remain human.

Egyptian student in Belgium and volunteer at SB OverSeas


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