Congratulations to the winners of our 9th Annual 
Israel Arbeiter Holocaust Essay Contest yom-hashoah-17
Upper Division
Donaldo Jean-Baptiste
Kaitlyn Rabinovitz
Nicholas Zink
Lower Division
Madison Lomax
Geryes Geha
Ashley Gallivan

Donaldo Jean-Baptiste

In this world there are countless people who suffer from political conflict and the hatred that people have for each other. This can lead to massive killing of innocent people.  Most of the time they do not always want to get involved because they are just innocent civilians who try to make a living. I know and believe that it is important not to be silent when people fully endure suffering, especially if those people are innocent. I fully agree with Elie Wiesel that we should always speak our mind whenever we see any injustice being done to innocent people. As a Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel knows the importance of taking sides. If the liberators hadn’t helped the people during the Holocaust, maybe we wouldn’t be able to talk about Elie Wiesel. That is why it is very important to always support justice and help innocent people who fall victims to these kinds of situations because I happened to be one of them. I was born into a poor family in Africa. My mother gave birth to me in my father’s absence because my father passed away when I was still in my mother’s womb. I never got to see my father. My mother also passed away when I was almost six years old. Both my parents passed away because of the war that was going on in the Republic of the Congo. All this time I witnessed people being killed and tortured, but there was nothing I could do at that time. I always wished I had the power to stop all the violence and suffering that people were going through but I was only a kid. There’s nothing I could have done because I was just a kid who knew nothing.

When I was living at my friend’s house, whose parents had agreed take care of me after losing both my parents, the same thing happened again. This time, we were in school when rebel soldiers suddenly attacked our school. We had lived in peace for quite some time before everything turned black again and so suddenly. These soldiers entered our school and started massively killing school children, raping teachers in classrooms, and abducting other children to turn them into child soldiers. I was only eleven years old. Our beautiful school was turned into a slaughter house. The memories of my classmates being slaughtered in front of my eyes always makes me feel guilty, but on the other hand, there’s nothing I could have done to save those innocent kids because my friend and I were very lucky to slip through those soldiers’ fingers. If we hadn’t we would probably be dead by now, or we would have been killed by the government
soldier in the front line during the war.

Because of this war my foster family, and my friend lost his biological family. My friend and I became registered as refugees in a refugee camp in Kenya. In the refugee camp there were more than ten different nationalities. There were many of unmonitored children who lost their parents due to the conflicts which always lead to war and bloodshed. In the camp there was a lot of child abuse, child labor, and young girls being forced into early marriages against their will. After seeing all of this I decided to volunteer as a child rights club leader in order to help those kids who could not help themselves and speak for those kids who could not speak for themselves. My job was to work in the community to speak to different kids and ask them how they are and how they are living, and I would report to the child protection office if I found any child being abused or living in a bad conditions. This time I could not stand any injustice that I witnessed in the camp because I had the ability to help. Working and helping children made me feel good. It made me feel like I made up for the time that I couldn’t help those ones who were during the war in my presence. So I decided to form my own group. My friend and I called it “Young Africans Fighting for a Better Generation”. Our mission was to fight for a better generation by using the power of talent as the key to success, and also to keep children away from the street that led to some of them to start using drugs and involving themselves with bad influences that would lead to jail while they young.

Until the end of my last breath, I swore to myself that I would never be silent whenever and wherever I saw human beings endure suffering and humiliation of any kind. My wish is to one day to open an orphanage for children who lost their parents, whether in the refugee camp or anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, children are so often the victims of violence. And they should be treated with love and care because they are the future. There wouldn’t be yesterday, today, or tomorrow if there were no children in this world.  


 

Madison Lomax

Taking sides and standing up for someone is a frightening risk. Everyday, someone gets humiliated or tormented. People endure pain frequently. Be the person you would want to be and put yourself in their shoes. Would you like somebody to help you, or would you just want them to stop and stare?

It is very important to not be silent when humans endure suffering. If you make noise by sticking up for someone, then the tormenter could think twice and stop. Either someone helps them out or they just witnesses the injustice. If you don't, then the tormenter would continue to make others suffer. Without noise, the bully can feel reinforced because no one is stopping or confronting them. Try to stand up for what is right and make your mark by telling the tormenter to stop. If you do not feel comfortable talking to the bully, then tell a trusted adult.

I agree with Elie Wiesel that we must take sides in this matter. You have the choice to take sides and make the right decision or to become a bystander. It is all up to you. If you are against one side, it is best to make a point and an explanation for what side you chose. If you don’t take a stand, then you are witnessing a devastating situation and it will keep on going and getting worse until someone stands up. Also, don't let others make your decision. If you feel differently than another person, then show it. One example would be the Holocaust. If more people took the side of the Jews, then it possibly couldn't have happened. Unfortunately, it did because most people took the side of Adolf Hitler. I had to take sides previously. My best friend has a brother named Brandon. He is a high school student and has down syndrome. I have been over my friend’s house many of times and learned that Brandon is just like any other human being. But, I have also acknowledged that other people disagree. Because of his unique ways, others sometimes make fun of him, I have witnessed it, and it needs to end! One night, I was roaming on social media and stumbled upon a post. It was a picture of Brandon and the comment made fun of how he speaks. Right away, I was stunned because it was posted by an old friend of mine. I knew that my best friend should be aware of this picture, so I sent it to her. She was heart broken. She really loves her brother and this post disappointed her.

My friend asked me to tell the girl to delete it, since I know her personally. Suddenly, my arms got goosebumps because I was slightly terrified. My mind was streaming with thoughts like “Should I do it or not?” and “If I do, then will the bully’s perspective on me be changed?”. But, after I realized how much it would mean to my friend, I got the guts to do it. My adrenaline was pumping and I messaged the bully. I explained to her the situation and after a few stressful minutes, she deleted it! After that, I felt so relieved! As soon as the picture was removed off of the Internet, a broad smile appeared on my face. My friend thanked me and it made me feel even better. I was filled with joy because I knew that I did the right thing, even though it meant stepping out of my comfort zone. Not only did I feel proud, but so did my best friend and her family. I kept wondering about what could’ve happened if I did not stick up for him. Luckily, I did step up to the plate and Brandon received my help. After I accomplished this, I made a text-to-world connection. Many people experience events like I had. There are 3.2 million victims of bullying a year! Most individuals are bystanders, and do not have the courage to make that jump. In a perfect world, nobody would get tormented. But unfortunately, we live in the 21st century and people disrespect each other because of their differences. No matter the situation, you should keep your comments to yourself. Also, if you come across someone getting bullied, make it stop!

So, do not be afraid! If you believe in yourself, then you can do it. Many painful things happen in this world, and it is up to us to stop it. Take sides when the time is appropriate and don’t be shy to prove your point! Maybe you can impact others to do the right thing after you commit an inspiring act . Be a role model! Lastly, do not only stick up for others, but most importantly yourself!