• Space of Mine
  • Inlingua Genève
  • GEMS World Academy Switzerland Summer Camps 2018
  • Sweet Sunshine Speech Therapy

Sunita blog Jan 2018
The Dalai Lama laughs with Richard Moore, director of Children in Crossfire, during a press conference in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in April 2013. AFP

By Sunita Sehmi, Walk The Talk

Richard Moore is the founder and Director of Children in Crossfire which is an International NGO based in Derry Northern Ireland.  He was born in 1961 and grew up during the conflict in Northern Ireland. He was the second youngest of a family of 12 children, 9 boys and 3 girls. The Creggan and Derry from around 1969 was at the center of the Northern Ireland conflict. Shootings, bombings and riots were a daily occurrence.

In 1972 when he was 10 years old whilst on his way home from school he was shot and blinded by a rubber bullet fired by a British soldier....

This is his story of loss, struggle, resilience and forgiveness.

Tell us about yourself.

I was compensated by the British Government for being shot and with some of the money I set up my own business. I also learned to play the guitar, played in local bands and set up a folk choir that sing in church every week. Eventually after 14 years of running my own business I decided to set up a charity to help children in Africa suffering from the injustice of poverty.

The charity, Children in Crossfire, was launched 21 years ago in 1996. I wanted to use my own experience as a child to help other children who were not as lucky as me. I was able to survive what happened to me because I came from a good family and a good community. I also was able to return to school and get a good education. In my young adult years, I became very aware of children in other parts of the world who might have had their eye-sight but didn’t have the same opportunities as me.  

"When I listened to the Dalai Lama speak I remember thinking he was describing how I felt. It was then that I realized what I was experiencing was forgiveness."

Could you tell us more about your book, Can I give him my eyes?

In 2004, I decided to write a book to share my story. The reason why I wrote the book was to acknowledge the things in my life that helped me deal with blindness. I also felt that it might in some way help others who may be struggling with some difficulty in their life.

I called the book ‘Can I Give Him My Eyes’ as when I was researching the book I discovered that when my Father was told by the doctor’s that I would be blind for the rest of my life he said “Can I give him my eyes”. I thought that this was one of the most caring, loving and compassionate things that anyone could do. My parents lived in extremely difficult circumstances. They didn’t have any money. My father was an unemployed shoe-maker. He offered the only thing he had to give and that was his own eye-sight. My father died 6 years after I was shot and I didn’t know that he had offered his own eyesight for mine until almost 33 years after the incident. I never got the chance to tell him that this was the greatest act of love I have ever known. This is why I wanted to in some way immortalize what he said.

"I managed to focus on my ability not my disability, on what I could do and not on what I couldn’t do."

You met Charles the British soldier who shot you. How did you find it in your heart to forgive him?

From when I was in my late teenage years and early 20’s I became curious about the soldier who shot me. In a strange way, me and the soldier were in a relationship. The most significant thing to happen to me in my life was being shot and blinded. The person I am, the work that I do etc. in many ways was shaped by this incident. The other person involved was the soldier. I think my ability to forgive him came from my parents. They were completely broken and deeply hurt by what happened to their 10-year-old son. There was a lot of tears but never anger. I don’t recall at any time my parents speaking in an angry way about what happened. In fact, they would have encouraged the opposite.  Also, due to the way that my family, friends and the local community supported me and cushioned the impact of blindness I didn’t feel losing my eye-sight was such a terrible thing. Therefore, at some level I had nothing to be angry about.

When I was old enough to think about blindness and the shooting itself I genuinely felt that during terrible times great things can happen. If I had been living in a normal peaceful environment then I probably would not have been shot. Charles would not have fired the bullet. I am not for one minute suggesting that what Charles did was right or it was justifiable but I simply recognize that conditions existed that led to these things happening.

"There was a lot of tears but never anger."

I realize for many people forgiveness is hard and this is totally understandable. However, thanks to the support I received, the influence of my parents and the personality I was given I was able to adjust very quickly to my new life as a blind person and therefore able to forgive.

Can you tell us about Children in Crossfire?

I started Children in Crossfire in 1996 I believe as a direct result of my life experience. I was so blessed in life to have the family and community that I was born into. In my young adult years, I became very aware of children in other parts of the world who suffered from the injustice of poverty. Children who were denied basic human rights such as access to proper food, clean water, medicine etc.

Our main focus is trying to provide access to education for young children. Therefore, we support programs that train teachers, provide classroom resources as well as build or refurbish early childhood centers. Children in Crossfire therefore support nutrition projects and safe, clean water programs. By providing access to clean water and improved nutrition children are healthy enough to attend school. Children in Crossfire work in Tanzania and Ethiopia, providing better health and education for children under 8 years old.

The best piece of advice I got was from my father, “Never let one cloud spoil a sunny day”.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama called you his hero. What a commendation! Please tell us more about that.

I have had the humbling and privileged experience of meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama on quite a few occasions since 2000. I am delighted to say that he is the patron of Children in Crossfire. I first met His Holiness in 2000 when he came to my home town, Derry. I was one of a number of victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland who attended one of his speaking events. I heard His Holiness talk about forgiveness that day. Until then I never thought of my own story in the context of forgiveness. When I listened to the Dalai Lama speak that day I remember thinking he was describing how I felt. It was then that I realized what I was experiencing was forgiveness. That day it was organized for me to sit beside him at the lunch table. It was then he asked me to share my personal story with him. Before leaving him that day he invited me to Dharamsala. where he lives in exile. to share my story with the Tibetan children.

Many years later in 2006 I plucked up the courage to write to His Holiness and let him know that I had met the soldier who shot me. Also, in the letter I invited him to be the keynote speaker at the Children in Crossfire 10th anniversary conference entitled ‘A Promise For The Future’. He accepted my invite which for me was one of the greatest honours I could ever have.

The Dalai Lama represents everything that I believe in and what Children in Crossfire is about. Despite his own suffering and the suffering of his people he has still remained an icon of forgiveness and compassion. Since then he has accepted my invite to Ireland on a few occasions and most recently attended Children in Crossfire’s 20th anniversary conference entitled ‘Educating the Heart’.

"Because of the way that my family, friends and the local community supported me and cushioned the impact of blindness I didn’t feel losing my eye-sight was such a terrible thing."

What are you most proud of?

I sometimes find this question very hard to answer. I am proud of my parents and the legacy of forgiveness and compassion they have given me. I am proud of my family, my local community and my friends for the genuine kindness and compassion they have shown me. I am proud of my two daughters every day. Though, most of all I am proud of what Children in Crossfire has achieved over the last 21 years. Many children’s lives have been saved and changed in the countries where we operate thanks to the support we have received.   

"We need to build an education system that nurtures and taps into that core sense of love, forgiveness and compassion that exists in us all. A system that focuses on educating the heart as well as the mind and values empathy and a genuine concern for others."

In your opinion what is the path to true greatness?

I am not sure if you would describe it as “the path to true greatness” but I think the path to a better life or to be a better or happier person is when you show empathy and compassion for others. It is easy to love and care about the people closest to you; family, friends etc. But when you have compassion towards your enemies or those who caused you pain or hurt that for me is the path to being a happier and better person.    

"I realize for many people forgiveness is hard and this is totally understandable."

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?  

My father was a very humble man, he left school at 14 years old and worked as a shoe-maker. The best piece of advice he gave me was: “Never let one cloud spoil a sunny day”. I think about this very often. All of us will experience sunny days but will also have many cloudy ones too. It could be said that blindness was one of my clouds. This advice has helped me to focus on the positive things in my life. Blindness has its challenges but there is much about my life that is good as well. It is therefore important that I focus on the good things. I managed to focus on my ability not my disability, on what I could do and not on what I couldn’t do.

What's the next challenge for us?

I think the real challenge for us is to build a more caring and compassionate world. To build an education system that nurtures and taps into that core sense of love, forgiveness and compassion that exists in us all. An education system that focuses on educating the heart as well as the mind, and values empathy and a genuine concern for others.

"But when you have compassion towards your enemies or those who caused you pain or hurt that for me is the path to being a happier and better person."

What’s next for you?

I want to continue using my experience and personal story to create a more compassionate world where children can grow and have the opportunity to reach their potential.

"I remember once thinking that I would rather be blind and live in Ireland than have my eye-sight and have to suffer what these children had to suffer in countries such as Tanzania and Ethiopia."

For more information about Richard's work and speaking events please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Children in Crossfire: Giving children the chance to choose

Can I give him my eyes? By Richard Moore

Sunita's Bio

sunitablogphoto nov2015

Sunita is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Consultant. She is of Indian origin and was born in London before moving to Geneva in 1992. She has a Psychology background (specialising in Occupational Psychology) and a Post Graduate in the Development and Training of Adults. She also completed a Masters in Ressources Humaines, Coaching et Gestion des Carrières at the University of Geneva.

During her 25 years experience Sunita's drive has always been to help people to do their best and hence led her to create Walk The Talk.

In her free time Sunita is a Mentor for the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship and a proud member of the School in The Cloud Team.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save