Holocaust Memorial Day 2019
Students and Staff from Bordesley Green Girls' School and Sixth Form played a part in the City of Birmingham's official Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations recently.
The purpose of the event was to reaffirm Birmingham's commitment to remember the victims of the Holocaust during World War Two and the terrible subsequent genocides which have occurred since then including the genocide in Rwanda which began 25 years ago this year in April 1994.
The theme for the official ceremony, held in the Banqueting Suite at the Council House, was Torn from Home. The formal event aimed to encourage participants, and the wider communities of Birmingham to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide.
Themes explored within the HMD 2019 event explored what happens when individuals, families and communities are driven out of, or wrenched from their homes, because of persecution or the threat of genocide,
alongside the continuing difficulties survivors face as they try to find and build new homes when the genocide is over.
Candles were lit during the event as symbols of remembrance - the words read during the lighting of the candle by our students were:
"I light this candle in remembrance of all the children and families in the world whose lives have been taken in war and genocide, and all the women and girls who have been injured or lost their lives for their belief in the right to be educated."
The commemorative theme was picked up again in school the following week when Amina Ali, the Head of the School Council, shared words she wrote for the HMD 2019 service and had read out as part of the programme.
"Today is a day to remember, to reflect and to learn.
My name is Amina Ali, the Head of Student council and a student at Bordesley Green Girls school & Sixth Form. When I say who I am, I remember my home, for that’s the place where I learnt and became the person I am today. And I’m sure it’s the same for everyone.
Just to be standing here today, I’m humbled by the presence of survivors, who aren’t just pages in a history book but are pearls which we must cherish while we can as individuals and a society in our hearts and preserve their memory.
‘Torn from home’, a theme for all times, all faiths and for everyone to share.
Our home isn’t defined by its location but it’s love, tenderness and warmth which hold it firmly together keeping the walls strong and up high. The people, the laughs, the jokes which keep it beating.
But if a place which was once your security and happiness, is overtaken by a cloud of darkness and uncertainty?
As your forced to leave behind everything you once had for nothing you know now. A decision opposed upon innocent Jews, made by a man who knew nothing about their home.
Loss. Trauma. Helplessness. The words to describe the empty void in your heart, as you mourned for your family, friends, community as all you wanted was to reclaim back your home, your identity. But you had nothing to come back to, so where do you belong?
These are little snips into the hearts of 6 million Jews whose heartbeats can still be felt by millions and millions of people still today.
To all the innocent lives taken, the colours of their identities faded, replaced with numbers, but still make up the rainbow of today.
Their bravery inspires us to sow seeds of hope, resilience and love in our hearts, communities and home"
The Lord Mayor quoted these words from Amina's speech in her closing address to the gathering at the Council House
"I ask not of us to build houses made of ignorance, hatred and stereotypes but to welcome, help and empathise with all those people who are still seeking a place to call home again. So, we don’t become the people to look away at the face of atrocity. For this is humanity."
We are proud of Amina Ali, Sana Khan and Aminah Ulfath for representing the school at HMD 2019 and grateful to Mr Weaver, Miss Arscott and Miss Joyner for facilitating their participation.