Yemen may not have much in common with Oregon, but there is a certain echo that the two surely want to share. Once upon a time, the hills of the Willamette Valley in Oregon were filled with echoes of rejoicing. It was a celebration of peace.
It was 1846 and word had reached the Valley that a peace settlement had been forged between the United States and Great Britain.
There was no CNN, no twitter or blogs back then, so it took months for them get the news. But what great news! A boundary dispute between Britain and the U.S. was resolved via the Oregon Treaty. What the Oregon Spectator newspaper described as "the miseries of war” were averted.
150-plus years later, far away from the hills of Oregon, others are searching for their own celebration of peace. They are children in Yemen who are right now caught up in the unrest between supporters of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh and protesters who want him to step down.
This is not the first moment of trial for Yemenis. Even before the recent unrest, this country has suffered through a violent conflict in the north between the government and rebels. There has been a seccionist movement in Southern Yemen. The Al Qaeda terrorist group has made Yemen a base. Along with conflict there is tremendous hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and a disappearing water supply.
Who suffer the most from this tragedy? Children. Last year three Yemeni children got to voice their message of hope for their embattled country. This was part of an interactive event hosted by Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bashir Shalili, a boy from Yemen said, "We don't want war. We want peace. We have the right to education."
Hadil Mouafak provided a tragically accurate assessment of the state of many children in Yemen. The young girl said, "Education is lousy, their health is poor. When you see them you feel sad inside. We want security and happiness for all the children in Yemen. We are tired."
Sleiman Sinan, a Yemeni boy, said, "Frankly, this is an international crisis. Whoever has a say in this matter must help bring peace and security for the sake of the children."