‘Know the way beloved you have been’: fathers write to their youngsters from the frontline

‘Know the way beloved you have been’: fathers write to their youngsters from the frontline

Gaza Composite: Guardian Design


Mohammed Hashem, 38, from Khan Younis, is a single father elevating his two-year-old son, Yusef. His spouse, Reem, and older son, Ismail, have been killed in an Israeli airstrike in December

Pricey Yusef,

There aren’t any phrases to explain the horrors now we have been by way of these previous few months. Final 12 months, we sat round a dinner desk as a household of 4, planning for the longer term. Now it’s simply me and also you – and our solely hope is to outlive tomorrow.

I typically suppose again to our household picnic on the seaside final summer season. Your brother Ismail ran in the direction of the ocean and your mom chased after him, each laughing. I sat holding you within the shade and watched them – and I assumed to myself: I have to be the luckiest man on the earth.

However in lower than a 12 months, all the things has modified.

Sooner or later, three months into the struggle, I went on the lookout for bread. Your brother Ismail had needed to return too however your mom was sick so I requested him to stick with her. You began to cry and I took you from her arms, hoping to supply some respite. However we returned to search out our whole constructing lowered to rubble after it was hit by an Israeli missile.

You’re too younger for any of this, Yusef. At evening, you ask me to sing the lullabies your mom sang to place you and Ismail to sleep. However I don’t know all of the phrases. I make up my very own humorous traces and also you giggle.

I’ve all the time been good at being the humorous man, however you want a father, not a clown. I ponder how lengthy it’d take so that you can overlook your mom and her lullabies. You’ve began asking about her much less and fewer – and don’t cry for her such as you used to.

You don’t deserve this, Yusef; no baby does.

You have to be taking part in conceal and search along with your brother. As an alternative, you’re crouched right here at midnight subsequent to me; hiding from Israeli missiles, looking for safety from the following airstrike.

Quote on what seems a bit of paper, studying: “When this struggle is over, we’ll decide up all of the damaged items and discover a method to make us entire once more. That’s my promise.”

Each evening, I place my hand over your racing coronary heart and am grateful that it’s nonetheless beating. I thank Allah that you’re nonetheless alive and pray you’re nonetheless right here within the morning.

You’ve turn into used to the sound of explosions now, some nights you even sleep by way of them. However your tiny physique, curled up subsequent to mine, nonetheless flinches instinctively.

Each day once we wake, we discover the path of destruction that has been left behind after the bombs. We stroll among the many particles, your small hand in mine, as we seek for meals. That is no place for a kid.

Amid the dying and devastation we expertise each day – you’re a gentle that glints within the darkness, a overcome concern.

Yusef, if I ought to die earlier than you, please know the way beloved you have been. I hope you develop up figuring out your house on this world. I hope your palms get to pluck olives from the timber. I hope we each get to return to the seaside and watch the sundown by the ocean.

My son, I need you to know that your very existence is an act of resistance, of freedom and of hope.

It’s not one thing I can take into consideration proper now however I do know this: I’ll do all the things in my energy to make sure we survive this struggle. We’ll rise from these ashes and live on.

I’ll train you how you can play soccer and how you can swim. I’ll be taught to cook dinner your mom’s recipes and memorise her lullabies. I would be the finest father I could be.

When this struggle is over, we’ll decide up all of the damaged items and discover a method to make us entire once more. That’s my promise.

Your father,

Mohammed Hashem

As informed to Thaslima Begum


Danylo Khomutovsky is a driver and frontline medic with Hospitallers, a volunteer group in Ukraine. His spouse, Lera*, and nine-year-old son, Sasha*, fled after the Russian invasion and at the moment are within the Netherlands. They’ve been separated from Danylo ever since

Pricey Lera and Sasha,

I made a decision it was higher to write down to you as a result of the connection right here is unhealthy and also you’re in all probability anxious. We now have simply returned from a patrol within the forest close to the Donbas entrance. It was an extremely robust one and I hope issues get simpler.

We evacuated a fallen soldier. I’m undecided why, however carrying him was terribly tough. The stretcher stored slipping by way of my fingers underneath his weight. It was a sophisticated feeling – extremely unhappy and on the similar time you’re conscious of your personal existence like by no means earlier than. You suppose: “This man is useless now, and I’m alive.” You’ll be able to really feel the life in your physique and know that you simply wish to preserve it that means.

The climate in jap Ukraine is horrible. Our autos acquired caught within the mud and it’s dangerous within the forest. The Russians shot at us with artillery. My commander Borsuk didn’t even flinch – he stated it was distant – however I ducked in concern.

Quote on what seems a bit of paper, studying: “I’m extremely impressed by how, within the few years because you sought security, you’ve realized a brand new language.”

A drone flew over and we needed to preserve nonetheless so it didn’t spot us. I felt like I used to be in Terminator 2, being chased by a soulless machine. On the way in which again we purchased potato pies – they have been probably the most scrumptious pies of my life.

I miss you each a lot and I dream of our vacation collectively. I’ve booked us a home within the Carpathian mountains, someplace with no neighbours and a landlady who will cook dinner for us. I’m working laborious to make it occur.

I’m extremely impressed by you, my Sasha, and the way, within the few quick years because you sought security within the Netherlands, you’ve realized a brand new language. Witnessing by way of video name as you watch cartoons in Dutch, a language utterly unknown to me, is one thing unimaginable, an odd and fantastic feeling.

I’m counting the times – it’s simply three weeks to go till you and your mom arrive to see me. It’s a brief wait in contrast with the months we’ve already been aside. I’m excited to see the way you’ve grown and who you might be changing into. I actually imagine you’ve a present for arithmetic and, away from Ukraine and this horrible struggle, you’ll get to make use of it.

We’ll go trout fishing quickly and eat our catch. We’ll climb Mount Pikui collectively, like we used to earlier than the struggle. Quickly the connection might be higher and I will name to learn you a bedtime story.

Please inform your mom that I really like her and that I’m nicely and I yearn to be with you each. I really like you each deeply, and might’t wait to hug you tightly.

Kisses and love,


As informed to Liz Cookman


Ali* is a father of two teenage women in Afghanistan, who’ve been unable to go to highschool because the Taliban seized energy in 2021

For his or her security, Ali and his daughters should not being proven

My dearest daughters,

I’m penning this letter to share my ideas and emotions with each of you with the hopes you’ll learn it when you’re older, as a result of I don’t know if I’d have the ability to discover a method to share these tough ideas and emotions with you nose to nose.

Each morning I get up with a coronary heart that’s heavy with ache and guilt that I can not appear to do something to vary this darkish actuality we live in.

As I prepare for work, and see that neither you women nor your mom are on the point of begin your day with me as we did simply three years in the past, a fireplace burns inside me, scorching my damaged coronary heart.

I typically marvel why did I even select to have youngsters, solely to see my good, lovely women disadvantaged of the alternatives I needed to bathe you with. However then I keep in mind the joyous days whenever you have been born into our household.

The society I used to be born and raised in was patriarchal, the place having daughters is taken into account a weak point, even unhealthy luck. Each father, and plenty of moms, in Afghanistan pray for a son, and barely welcome the start of a daughter.

However your mom and I couldn’t have requested for a higher blessing in our life than the 2 of you. I used to be so proud to be a father to you women.

Quote on what seems a bit of paper, studying: “I can not overlook how proud I felt watching you march off to your first day of college. It felt such as you have been going to beat the world”

I can not even start to explain the happiness and pleasure I felt on the times of your start.

With every of your births, I began planning your futures with nice seriousness.

Your mom and I debated and argued for hours each day on which faculties and universities to ship you to; though you have been nonetheless in kindergarten. I can not overlook how proud I felt watching you march off to your first day of college. It felt such as you have been going to beat the world and present our society that women should not a weak point, however a supply of nice power.

My dearest daughters, it’s so tough to place in phrases right here, how traumatic it was for me when the Taliban banned faculties and universities for women.

Once I first heard the information, it felt like somebody had pushed me right into a deep, darkish nicely the place even a speck of sunshine was not seen. I anxious on your mom, for all the ladies and women of Afghanistan, however most of all, for each of you – as a result of only a 12 months earlier than, you had the brightest futures forward of you and now it should appear to be there’s solely darkness forward.

I need you to know the way proud I’m of you each after I watch how, regardless of all the things, you might be nonetheless attempting to be taught out of your mom, from the TV and from all the things round you. I cherish the grins you give me each day, though I don’t really feel I deserve them.

Regardless of the darkness and ignorance round us, allow us to not lose our hope and search inspiration from the courageous, sturdy Afghan ladies round you, like your mom. And in the meantime, I’ll proceed to search out methods to empower each of you in any means I can.

I’m assured that these darkish days will finally finish, and I promise you we is not going to hand over in your future.

Your loving father,


As informed to Hikmat Noori


Mohamed Abakar Khatir, 61, is a father of two sons and two daughters. They’re residing in Ambilia refugee camp in Adré, on Chad’s border with Darfur. Final 12 months he practically died after being shot in an assault by the Fast Assist Forces and Arab militias close to their residence within the Ardamata space of El Geneina. The household have already needed to transfer from one refugee camp and there’s little prospect of them returning to their homeland quickly

Pricey Ahmed and Anas,

I wish to let you know that I understand how tough our life has turn into. Typically I despair that now we have misplaced all the things, however I’ve you two and your sisters and your mom, and that’s probably the most treasured factor in life.

We’re homeless now however I promise issues will get higher. We have to have religion. I maintain on to the idea that at some point your goals will come true in getting an training and residing a greater life.

Quote on what seems a bit of paper, studying: “You’re each my hope that the longer term will turn into brighter.”

Ahmed – after I was shot by the Janjaweed militia final 12 months and everybody thought I used to be useless, it was you, my expensive son, who stored the religion that I used to be alive.

You crossed many checkpoints by your self to succeed in me and refused to depart me alone. You rescued me and it’s due to you and also you alone that I’m alive as we speak.

I’m sorry I can’t provide the belongings you want. I do know you badly want glasses and I can not get these for you now. Due to my accidents I nonetheless can not work, in any other case, God is aware of, I might have finished any job to make your life higher.

I promise I’ll do all the things I can to see which you could examine sooner or later. When this struggle is over, we’ll return to our beloved land, El Geneina in West Darfur, however with dignity and justice.

Amid this mess and distress we live by way of in Adré, I thank God that we’re all collectively. That is the most important blessing. As we are saying: “All wounds will vanish besides these in our souls.”

You’re each my hope that the longer term will turn into brighter.

Your father

As informed to Zeinab Mohammed Salih

* Names have been modified to guard their identities

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