I am here for other children
I am here because I care
I am here because children everywhere are suffering and because 40,000
people die each day from hunger, I am here because those people are mostly children
We’ve got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them
We’ve got to understand that these deaths are preventable
We’ve got to understand that people in third world countries think, and care and smile and cry just like us
We’ve got to understand that they are us we are them
My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000
My dream is to give the poor a chance
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day
My dream can come true if we all look at the future and see the light that shines there
“This is the text of speech delivered by Corrie at her graduation ceremony at the age of 10.”
H. Zehra Öztürk
Rachel Corrie was born in Olympia, the United States, in 1979. She was the third child of Cindy and Craig Corrie following their children Sarah and Chris. She was a free-spirited girl who had dreams, she was conscientious. Even at the age of 10, she was aware of the presence of other lives other than the “American Dream.”
She was a successful student. She was interested in arts, she always had some construction papers and pastels to work with. In her spare time, she used to visit hospitals, nursing homes and was doing her best to help the people there. She went to Russia for her first school trip. She liked the smoke, dirt and cold in the streets of Moscow which smelled of history. Contrary to the order and cleanness in Olympia, she liked the mess in Moscow. As she was returning to Olympia, she wrote the following sentences to her diary, “I am returning to home but why am I not happy?”
Perhaps, Rachel was looking for the reality outside the “American Dream.” The Sept. 11 attacks took place and something was going wrong in the lands where other children live. Big powers of the world began military operations in Afghanistan, which would turn the country into a graveyard, and there were discussions about a US military intervention in Iraq. “Fight against terrorism” created enemy warriors, in addition to discriminatory official policies of the US administration against Muslims, US citizens also began to approach Muslims with hostile feelings.
“That was just the post Sept.12 period,” says Rachel’s mother Cindy and she adds: “Following Sept. 11, Rachel began to question the actions of the US administration and she began to show particular interest in the issues about the Middle East.” Rachel’s knowledge and curiosity about other people and the Middle East were increasing every passing day. With her friends from the university, she was trying to raise the awareness of the people in their city about the military operations of the US in the Middle East and she was also organizing some events to this effect. At the same time, Rachel was also closely following the developments in Palestine.
Rachel was communicating with her activists friends in Gaza and she was closely following the developments there. She thought she needs to be in Gaza. In order to understand what is going on there, she thought she should go there and see what is happening with her own eyes. “I’m coming,” she wrote in one of her e-mails she sent to her friends in Gaza and she departed for Gaza without losing time.
The propaganda machine of Israel met her just at the Tel Aviv Airport. She was given a booklet, which said: “The number of people killed in road accidents is more than the people killed in wars.” Rachel knew that this was not true and she would observe this in Gaza herself.
She first went to the Jerusalem and the West Bank. While she was working at human rights workshops in Jerusalem, she was always hearing sirens of the ambulances which were carrying Palestinians injured by Israeli attacks. Rachel saw Israeli settlements, the construction of a wall in the West Bank, Palestinians who were being treated as second-class people in their own occupied land and the social, economic and political aspects of the occupation with her own eyes.
She had hard time in believing that all those were taking place. What she saw was confirming her earlier knowledge about the developments in the region but she thought those things just should not be real. In the e-mails she sent to her family, she wrote, “Even if I had read hundreds of books, attended conferences and watched documentaries about what is going on here, I would never really understand what is taking place here.”
Rachel was thinking that the realities she saw in Palestine should also be known by everyone. In order to achieve this, she began to write e-mails to her acquaintances in Olympia and explain them what is going in Gaza. Student and teacher groups in Olympia suggested her to become pen friends with children in Gaza. Rachel welcomed this idea but she thought it was a very small step taken for solidarity with Palestinians and there was need to do more.
She was organizing demonstrations with her activist friends in Palestine in addition to writing e-mails to other activists to inform them about what is going on in the country. Through press releases and protests, Rachel was making efforts to ensure that human rights violations in Gaza find coverage in the world media. Rachel stayed in Palestine for about three months. She took part in demonstrations in Rafah region of Gaza which were organized to prevent destruction of water wells and demolishment of houses.
She became friends with Palestinians. She was teaching English to the children and she was learning Arabic from them. Cindy’s dear sister was again thinking about other children. “There are bomb holes on the walls of the houses of the children here. They live under the watch towers and walls of an occupant army. I am sure that even the youngest kid here is aware that life is not so in other parts of the world.”
“I am in Rafah today but I feel safe,” she told her father in one of her e-mails. In another e-mail she wrote to her mother, Rachel said: “The house of the family I am living with was hit by a bomb yesterday. All the windows of the house broke just as I was readying to serve tea and was playing with two little babies.” Rachel was seeing all the realities in Palestine, Gaza.
“If I return home, I won’t have peace. I need to do something after all I saw here. I will come to Olympia, take care of my personal affairs, tell everyone there what goes on here but I need to come back to here as soon as possible,” she wrote in one of her e-mails.
She wrote the following to her mother on Feb. 27 “Mummy, I love you, I miss you so much. I see bad dreams, I see tanks and bulldozers outside our house.” There were tanks and bulldozers outside Rachel’s house as Palestine became her home. Nineteen days after this dream, Rachel was in front of an Israeli bulldozer on the border in Rafah. She was in front of an Israeli bulldozer which would demolish the house of a Palestinian family, she used her body as a shield. “I am a human rights activist.
I am a US citizen. Stop,” she was saying but the bulldozer did not stop. Rachel was killed by Israel on March 16 while she was at the age of 23. The story of Rachel is being told in every part of the world now.
Rachel’s voice echoes for Palestine and justice.