A Palestinian Girl’s Heart


by Mai Zaru

On a silky bed, a female’s body sinks in the softness of the mattress and floats in the tranquility of this silent night. With a set of hazel beady eyes gazing into the darkness of the room as the booming voices of White Lion replay the song “When The Children Cry” over and over through her earbuds. It’s 2:16 am and to say the least, she’s never been more awake in her life. How can a 1987 song unveil her muffled childhood and shed light on her unpredicted future? How can it leave a 20-year-old girl sleepless on such a comfortable bed? How can a girl at such a young age be as restless as the Alaskan tsunami at Lituya Bay?

When the Children Cry was released 29 years ago to speak the grief of youngsters under war-ridden nations, a grief spoken of then, is no different than the grief lived by youngsters today.  So how can we tell the children that we’ve tried, when a song of desolation and aching remains applicable to a generation 3 decades younger? How can we, when history has repeated its cruelty, its segregation and its oppression?  All these queries triggered by the diversity of the band, White Lion, as they voiced to explain the cruelty and ‘evilness’ of mankind to a young child. A child that has witnessed disgrace and humiliation yet feared to ask why. Why me, why her, why us?

The chorus goes on to reiterate, “when the children cry, let them know we tried.” As the words echo in her ears, her troubled mind begins to sort through familiar and unfamiliar faces, memorable voices, raucous noises, complex flashbacks, traumatic memories, and news headlines condemning victims, bashing women, and smothering the oppressed. Leading her to question the reiterated line, “have we tired and are we done trying?” Two simple questions that walk her through 20 years of living to seek to understand the restlessness behind her stained glass heart of optimism.

In the 29 years since the release of the song, and the 20-year overlap since her birth, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been reduced by almost 46% based on UN’s comparative statistics of 2010[1]. Despite the emerging inequality and economic inequity, a human’s work has become of more value than $1.25[2] a day. Such acknowledged growth is a symbol of pride to this world, yet to this girl, it’s a stepping stone to further eliminate the inequalities present.

In those same 20 years, the astoundingly humble parents of this girl enrolled her in a private primary school in a city where male dominancy was thriving, where an occupation was striving on illegal authority, and where a woman’s voice was last to be accounted for. But that girl was admitted amongst many other girls in that year, where primary school enrollment rates leaped a 15%[3] increase becoming the bloom of women and the blossom of societies. A step as provocative and vital as enrollment, has been lead her to desire to become a Special Education teacher, in a society that once muffled her revolutionary voice and marginalized her gender for the power of a woman to educate a world one family and one community at a time.

So if you were to join White Lion, in reiterating and telling the children that “we tried” then maybe we need to try harder for we’ve failed to meet our goals. To try, is to seek positive progress, and to seek progress is to seek hope, success and pride, it is not to seek a destination but rather a determination for a continual strive for equality.  ‘Trying’ is only a gesture of a positive effort and movement in a direction that promises a future light rather than gratifies desires with spotlights.

To answer that girl’s question; yes, we’ve tried. We’ve tried to end poverty, we’ve tried to shelter the homeless, we’ve tried to terminate segregation, we’ve tried to cure cancer, we’ve tried to rescue refugees, we’ve tried all that. But I’m not done trying because to stop trying, is to stop living, because without a vision for a better tomorrow, there will be no motive to carry the past and strive to live through today. That 20-year-old girl with the restless nights and the stained glass heart is me, taking in the brutality of a dark night and finding beauty in the twinkles of its stars. Yes, that stained glass heart is mine and no matter how hard it is to admit, its fragile. However, the fragility mends the impurities and distortions of yesterday, and the anguishes and pleasures of today work together to become the resilient art of our tomorrow. It’s a heart mended by the power to learn, the will to love, the strength to serve, and the drive to continue trying.

So yes we’ve tried, but are you done trying?


How Has the World Changed in the Last 20 Years? | UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund. (2016). Unfpa.org. Retrieved 5 August 2016, from http://www.unfpa.org/news/how-has-world-changed-last-20-years

[1] (“How Has the World Changed in the Last 20 Years? | UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund”, 2016)

[2] (“How Has the World Changed in the Last 20 Years? | UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund”, 2016)

[3] (“How Has the World Changed in the Last 20 Years? | UNFPA – United Nations Population Fund”, 2016)


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