Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 61

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Women who Live in Conflict Regions

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, last week the international community celebrated International Women’s Day. Today I would like to pay tribute to all senators, past and present, who work hard to improve the lives of people living in Canada and abroad. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize all your hard work and salute you for your service to our country and to the international community.

Although we have made great strides towards bettering the lives of women both in Canada and abroad, I am sure you will agree there is a lot that still needs to be done. I think it is important that we remain mindful of the challenges women are forced to face and the unfortunate realities that confront them in their day-to-day lives.

Yesterday evening we all received a poem from a woman named Miriam Katawazi. Today I would like to take a moment to share this poem and pay tribute to women, not like ourselves, who live in conflict-ridden areas and must endure the loss of their child, which is undoubtedly the worst pain a mother can suffer — a pain that can never, ever heal. The poem is titled The Boy in the Red Pyjamas.

It’s getting late and the kids are hungry
She already sold all her valuables and was left with no money
So she asked her little prince to go to his bed
Hoping sleep would allow him to escape the hunger in his head
She watches as his little legs carry him
And she thinks to himself how she loves his every limb
Once he is fast asleep on his homely bed like thing
She cries herself to sleep and stares at her wedding ring
She felt joy in the fact that she still had something to sell
To allow her child to escape at least tomorrow’s hell
The next morning . . .
A piercing blood shot cry wakes up all of Afghanistan
That shakes the heart of even the most pitiless man
A little boy in red pyjamas lies in the arms of his mother
Who’s nothing but a clump of blue burka shivering like no other
Locals gather around her silent because their words hold no meaning
It’s what they’ve been hold told and it’s what they have been seeing
The boy in the red pyjamas is just a number
One of the many who were shot in their slumber
And if you listen closely,
By muting out all the nonsense the media sings
You will hear the mother’s piercing blood shot cry across the ocean
You will feel the earth shake when they lower the boy in the red pyjamas into his grave
Because even the earth’s soul breaks when it sees his little bloody hand
Touch his mother’s blistered fingers for the last time . . .