Damn the War

Damn the war. Shamsia Hassani

A Heart in pain reaches out to the people of Ukraine

Shamsia Hassani  is from Afghanistan. She is an artist who believes strongly that art changes peoples’ minds and people change the world.

Over the time since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, that idea might not be as easy to believe in. It has remained, however, a strong belief and her art has intensified. It brought colour and appreciation into the lives of women who began to believe in themselves.

Prior to the Taliban take-over she was part of a movement in Afghanistan who were dedicated to inspire women in a male-dominated society, and, indeed, throughout the world. As a result women in repressed societies found a new hope. She taught creative use of art and her works, often expressed as graffiti or street art, is both proud and loud. Through it she and associates gave Afghan women a sense of worth and a depth of purpose.  She taught in Kabul University and she has exhibited her work in many countries. Her message is motivational and challenging.

The Taliban takeover seemed to take all that away but as they moved into Kabul, Shamsai painted deeply provocative and defiant images which pushed the boundaries of her work into a highly dangerous confrontation.
As a result she has moved from Kabul to a safe location.

She has no idea what the future holds for women in Afghanistan or even for Afghanistan itself. Evidence suggests that, amidst the chaos and devastation of people’s lives and the crumbling infrastructure everything is moving backwards and women are losing the freedom to be themselves.

All is bleak and whilst Shamsia continues to paint her art  as an expression of freedom and creativity, she is aware that the way ahead is far from easy.

As the escalation of war in Ukraine has touched her heart, what she has written below comes therefore from one who truly understands about the pain and violence and futility of what is happening in their lives. It has happened in hers.

No one can describe the moment, when the world suddenly collapses on you.
Ukraine, I feel your pain, I am also hit hard by the war. I feel the pain of your displaced and homeless people. I feel the pain of your children. I am sorry for what your people have lost and are about to lose. I am sorry that you are experiencing war and the endless pain that comes with it.

When I hear the word War I tremble. One cannot describe the word War.

 I understand the current state of the Ukrainian people very well, I see myself among them. Escape,fear,displacement,hopelessness…
The loss of peace and short beautiful moments of life cannot be explained when suddenly your world is destroyed and taken from you.

For years, the word “War” has filled moments of my life. For years, I and my people have experienced the loss of friends, family and loved ones. We have experienced losing our homes and our homeland. We have felt the pain of migration, the loss of home, family and our homeland. The good days that we hoped for, never came.
Our beautiful past memories that will never come back, but will haunt our present forever.


She is currently working on a series of paintings which she is calling  Damn the war/ لعنت به جنگ
The painting above is from the series.

Hope is in short supply right now but Shamsia is doing all she can to keep its flame glowing in herself and in the world. We can take inspiration from her and we can paint the same hope with our prayers.

Prayer is never something we should do because there is nothing else. Prayer should be the first thing we do because it brings us into the heart of God and therefore shapes all other responses. It opens us to a reservoir of true hope which feeds our actions for others who are in desperate need.

[Mr G]

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