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War: What Does it Mean to You?

The Result of War

Summer, 2009 I shot some short video interviews with dozens of people at a food distribution at five war-affected communities in Eastern Congo. I asked the question ‘what does war mean to you?’  The answers they gave me addressed broad issues of dislocation and hunger, but they described conflict at a very local, very human level, it was powerful.

There is no way for me to really understand what it would feel like to escape with my life, to run terrified with my family as another militia swept in to take what little I owned. I can’t understand it, but I have met people who have lived it.  I wanted to share four of their stories here:

The horror of war

The deaths of 1000, 10 000 or 100,000 is horrific but I find it hard to relate to a large number with another zero. I can only understand a problem like this through the eyes of one person. I begin to see the depth of the conflict in the words of joy and fear, rescue or sorrow as told by the people who lived through it. The people in these videos:

Let us never forget, the real story here is the story of people.  Regardless of the motives of the people who fight, or the politics and multinational agendas, the practice of war means men, women and children are given the job to run away from men with guns.

I cannot imagine picking up my daughters and racing from my house – but this is what countless people do everyday around the world. They become refugees searching for a place of peace, hoping to raise families, get jobs, share meals with friends and laugh again. I wonder what words like war and refugee would mean if they referred to my situation?

Which story do you relate to?

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