accessibility & help

Mosul checkpoint: Everything is beautiful

A family have left their home, hoping to travel to safety. The photograph was taken the day after Iraqi government forces began a military campaign to recapture the city of Mosul. The family is waiting at a checkpoint near the town of Qayyarah, south of Mosul.

An Iraqi family wait at a check point near the town of Qayyarah© Info

Look at the t-shirt slogan one of the boys is wearing in the photo —‘Everything is beautiful, but beautiful isn’t everything’. Invite reactions from your group. Does it make anyone feel differently about the family’s situation? Or feel better? Might it sum up an approach to resilience; be positive overall, but also be practical and realistic about the details?

  • Begin with an agree/disagree activity based on the slogan. Take each part in turn. Who in the group agrees and who disagrees with the statement: ‘Everything is beautiful’? Use a show of hands or position in the room to show varying viewpoints and strength of opinion. Invite two people who are strongly contrasting in their point of view to explain their opinions to each other. Invite contributions, and ask if anyone wants to change their view after hearing the debate.

    Do the same with the second part: ‘but beautiful isn’t everything’. What do young people think it means? Who agrees with it?

    As a group, list other abstract features that might be vitally important to a family fleeing their home in a conflict zone. Examples might be: safety, health, friendship, justice. Make a list, and order it in priority. Are these things important to all people in all situations, or are some only relevant to those in crisis?
  • A very large number of people will be at this and other checkpoints along the family’s journey. The UN estimates that more than one million people could be displaced as a result of the conflict. Discuss how it might feel to be waiting and invite young people to make their own list of activities that personally help them reduce the boredom of a long wait. How many of these depend on external devices? What if they are not available? Discuss ways to keep other people, including young children, occupied and positive. Look again at the photograph. How would young people describe the mood of the family? What distractions might help reduce anxiety?
  • Tens of thousands of people are on the move in Iraq. It’s estimated that around 1,000 have arrived recently in Syria. Some arrived after walking for 15 days. Some will stay in emergency camps. A smaller proportion will be hosted by communities, in people’s homes.

    Imagine you are volunteering at a centre. What is the first thing you would say to new arrivals after greeting them? What do you think their immediate needs might be? How might that change over time? Work up to devising a role play or mini-drama showing the interaction between members of newly arrived families and the volunteers trying to help them, often with very limited resources.


This resource was written by P J White of Alt62 and published in November 2016.