Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 2:32 PM PDT
Carolyn Ronis, '00, '03 JD, was awarded the 2017 Seattle University Community Service Award at the Alumni Awards on May 5th. During her acceptance speech, she presented Fr. Steve and the Seattle University community with a piece of artwork entitled “We Are.” Read on to see what Carolyn had to say about the piece.
This piece of art titled “We Are” was created by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) currently residing at Sengere settlement in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria. Most of the IDPs escaped to Sangere after the deadly “Gwoza Massacre” of June 2, 2014 in Gwoza, Borno State. Boko Haram, the world’s deadliest terrorist organization, tortured, assassinated and burned residents of all ages. Children witnessed their parents being executed and many were left as orphans. Reliable sources estimate the death toll from that attack at between 400-500 civilians.
Most of these survivors escaped with only the clothes on their backs. After hiding in the bush for many weeks, these IDPs finally arrived at Sangere. Tattered, dirty, starving, and sick, they now face discrimination and starvation, but they are thankful to be alive.
“We Are” is an original piece made up of the real handprints, dirt and all, of individuals who survived that deadly night and the many deadly nights after, in search of peace. Sharing their handprints, they send a message to the world that they exist, they do not want to be forgotten, and they are working to come to terms with what has happened so they can create their own peace. The leaf prints communicate their occupation as farmers in Gwoza and their quest to find their own land where they can safely resume their livelihood activities. Until then, they are starving.
“We Are” was created during a Healing Through Art (HTA) program administered by ICEHA (International Coalition for the Eradication of Hunger and Abuse). ICEHA’s Executive Director, Carolyn Ronis, graduated from Seattle University in 2000 and SU Law in 2003. She developed Healing Through Art to help children heal the psycho-social wounds of war and stop the perpetuation of violence from one generation to the next. Boko Haram is officially designated as the world’s deadliest terrorist organization. In Nigeria alone, it is estimated that there are over 2 million people displaced by Boko Haram. Without psycho-social healing, many, especially children, remain vulnerable to recruitment into Boko Haram.