My heart is in this stone
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Letter to Friends around the World # 101

In the United Nation’s Human Rights Building in Geneva, in the main entrance hall, we are struck by a marvelous, shiny sculpture. It looks like an antique vessel filled with small stones. On its top, there is a mobile: sails? twigs? This vessel – in the form of a tree – is filled, just like a treasure, with the precious stones collected by children either where they live or where they work: 5,000 stones from mines, quarries, fields, a cemetery - but also toys and lucky charms, holiday souvenirs, collected stones. Each and every stone tells a story of its own :

« I don’t sleep in a room, but on the ground with pebbles and stones. I picked up this stone at the place where I stay, next to the big mosque. My heart is in this stone. » (Roger, Burkina Faso)

« I found my stone on the hill. My father and José my little brother work in the mines. José goes there to accompany my dad. When my dad is too tired, he helps him to make it home. » (Guido, Bolivia)

This sculpture comes from the ATD Fourth World youth branch, Tapori. It was a gift in 1999 from children who came from worldwide delegations to send a message for the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
They wanted to create a sculpture that would touch everybody’s heart for more peace and respect in the life of every child on this earth. The adults faced with the dream of those children were  sent the following message: « A huge sculpture has to be made for peace! Or, a source that flows like soft music ». The message further said: « Do not feel guilty when you look at this sculpture but find strength in it and emphasize that children help adults ».

Those adults were afraid not to be a match for the dream of those children. Then Philippe appeared on the scene, an artist from the former mines of the north of France. It was obvious that he was the one who created this unique work of art. He was after all once a child, locked up,  humiliated and negated, who fought on a daily basis to live those peaceful moments and be acknowledged.

Today, the UN magic tree in Geneva seems to be dancing very slowly. People stop and look at it: school children with their teachers; groups of visitors. There was an employee as well, holding her baby in her arm, looking very happy and trying to touch the mobile to trigger the bell.

Noldi C., ATD Fourth World, Switzerland