• Norman Kember

 

Norman Kember - hostage

We have chosen Norman Kember, the grandfather of one of our Year 4 children, as our role model for peace.

Norman Kember is a Christian pacifist - active in campaigning on issues of war and reconciliation. He is also president of
the Baptist Peace Fellowship and a trustee of Pax Christi (international Catholic Movement for Peace) and an active member of the fellowship for Reconciliation as well as being
a member of the Inter-faith Council of Harrow. He became internationally known when, as a senior volunteer of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, he and three other members of
the team, were taken hostage.


The story of Norman Kember


In 2005 Norman met the Canadian Peace team and decided to go to Iraq, just for 10 days, to see their work and to meet the Iraqi people.


He went with Harmeet, a Sikh, Jim, a Catholic and Tom a Quaker.


One day, They went to visit a mosque.


After leaving the mosque, they were taken hostage.


They were left in an upstairs room and had to sleep on the floor,


they were handcuffed together and had very little to eat. They were held for nearly 5 months as prisoners.


Norman wrote a letter to his grandson Ben in case he never saw him again.


One day Tom was taken and was shot. The others didn t know what had happened to him until they were set free.


In England, Ben s grandma received hundreds of letters of support and many people around the world prayed for them.


Very early one morning, they were rescued by soldiers from the SAS and taken to the embassy.


Since coming home, Norman has written a book, ?Hostage in Iraq and he has given at least 60 talks to different churches, schools, synagogues and mosques all over the country and abroad to give his message of peace.


 


Christian Peacemaker Team logo


Ben interviewed his grandfather as part of his project

Transcript of his interview

BEN: When did you become interested in peacemaking?
NORMAN: When I was at college.
 
BEN: What things have you done over the years to make the world more peaceful?
NORMAN: Many marches for peace.
 
BEN: What do you see as your biggest achievement for peace?
NORMAN: Going to Iraq with the Christian Peace team.
 
BEN: Why did you go to Iraq even though you knew that you could be held hostage?
NORMAN: I went to meet some Iraqis to tell them that they are our friends.
 
BEN: How long were you held for?
NORMAN: I was held for 4 months.
 
BEN: What did you learn?
NORMAN: That making peace is not easy.
 
BEN: What would your message be to all the children in my school and all the other schools?
NORMAN: There are better ways to make peace than fighting and killing.
 



Copy of a letter written by Norman to his grandson Ben
This was to be given to Ben, if his grandfather died in captivity, when he was old enough to understand

 

From captivity:
You will know by now that I came to believe that violence was not the answer to conflict situations. Violence tends to lead to further violence – maybe at a much later date. So, better ways have to be found to resolve conflicts between people, communities and nations so your grandfather was active in many peace movements. Feeling that writing letters to MPs and going on demonstrations was ‘easy peacemaking', he decided to explore the Christian Peacemaker approach, which involves taking risks in conflict zones. In Grandad's case it brought him many weeks of captivity as a kidnap victim with three others.
I would not wish you to share that experience but hope that you will take account of the values of truth, justice and peace in the path you choose to follow through life – and marry someone who combines the best qualities of your mum and grandma!

Norman
 



Norman and Ben
at St Augustine's School

 Ben’s granddad will be 80 this year and still continues to work tirelessly for peace.