Dear members of the HIC community,
As 2023 comes to an end and so does my time as our Coalition’s President, I thought much about all the things I would like to share with you, the struggles we fought together, the struggles ahead of us, the need for HIC to continue its work inspired by the values, vision and mission that brings us together.
After much consideration and thought, I decided to close the year, not with a political reflection but a poem written by my dear colleague Catalina Ortiz, a poem she read as we gathered to commemorate the life of Dr Refaat Alareer, a University College London (UCL) alumnus who was born in Gaza in 1977, who promoted the power of storytelling as a means of resistance, and was killed on 6 December 2023 in an Israeli airstrike, along with his brother, sister and her three children:
We read poetry when the bombs are deafening
We hold to poetry when our hearts are broken
We invoke poetry to distinguish us from brutality
We bleed poetry when words are our only seeds
We turn to poetry to ignite our fire
We carry poetry to soothe our souls
We bring poetry to harvest our hope
We spread poetry in a refusal to forget
We honour poetry as the language of liberation
Catalina Ortiz (2023)
In many ways, our Coalition is poetry, something to hold to when our hearts are broken, something to invoke to distinguish us from brutality, something to heal us when words are our only seeds, a collective space to ignite our fire, to soothe our souls, to harvest our hope, to spread our voice in a refusal to forget, to practice the language of liberation.
Thanks to all and each of you for an incredible journey, for coalescing together through our learning, political debates, actions and advocacy; but above all, thanks for being like poetry, a collective reservoir to heal, unite, resist, defy, build hope and seek justice and liberation.
Always in solidarity,
Habitat International Coalition (HIC) President (2019-2023)