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President Biden Has Let the Children Down

November 19, 2023
Common Dreams

By Soleil-Chandni Mousseau

“Between us are many miles of land and water. Between us are fish and cities and buses and fields and presidents… and a million trees.” — Sitti’s Secrets

September 2013

After my wellness appointment, the doctor smiled and asked me to pick a book from the pile to bring home. I was intrigued by Sitti’s Secrets — the story of Mona, an Arab American girl, and her travel from the U.S. to Palestine to visit her “Sitti” (grandmother).

Like Mona, my grandmothers live on other sides of the world — in India and in France. Despite the distance, I too share a close bond with my Nani and Mamie. While Mona’s Sitti baked the special bread, I smelled Nani’s fresh puffed phulkas and Mamie’s crepes. When it was time for Mona to leave her Sitti, I felt her sadness in leaving our loved ones.

Upon her return, Mona wrote a letter to the President of the United States — that she and her Sitti want peace:

Last night when I watched the news on TV, I felt worried.If the people of the United States could meet Sitti, they’d like her, for sure... Mr. President, I wish you my good luck in your very hard job. I vote for peace. My grandmother votes with me.

Gaza War, 2014

The summer of 2014, newspapers on the kitchen table and images flashing on the television caught my attention. My young eyes and ears could not fully comprehend what was happening; all I saw was children like me being bombed. Worried for Mona’s Sitti, I wrote a letter to the President of the United States.

My six-year-old self loved to write; I crafted a very misspelled letter, though a letter nonetheless, to President Brack Obama. The media I had caught a glimpse of kept flashing in my head: bloodied children, rubble, screaming. I believed that the president was unaware, or else he would have done something about it. To my surprise, I received a response from the White House.