Sun, 03 Aug 2003

Seeking life's tender mercies

Children are the most visible, poignant victims of war. Images of wide-eyed innocents amid a landscape daubed in blood -- whether it is the conflict zones of Liberia, Iraq or, like the photos on this page, in Aceh -- are bound to tug at our hearts.

In shedding a tear and turning to the next page, we conveniently clump them as nameless victims, the poster childs for us to hold up to assuage our guilt while never acknowledging them as individuals.

Yes, they are still children at heart, but those adult notions of childhood innocence were lost long ago. They have been forced to grow up too fast, learning to be resilient in the face of overwhelming odds. All the while, their hope is for a return to a world free of explosions, the searing sound of gunfire and, worst of all, an unrelenting insecurity about what tomorrow will bring.

-- Text and photos by R. Berto Wedhatama