Remember Beslan: Journey of Hope

The Banner of Hope at School #1 Beslan, Russia January 22, 2005

On January 15 of 2005 our video crew, Bob Fox Camera/ Director, Bob Thorndike Sound, and myself Andrew Andersen Producer/ Editor, accompanied Pat Montandon and the Children as the Peacemakers Foundation members on a mission of compassion to Beslan Russia.

For over 20 years, Pat Montandon has led groups of children on missions of peace around the world. One of her ongoing efforts has been the"Banner of Hope", a red silk banner that now measures over a mile long bearing the names and ages of children killed in wars. In response to the September 1, 2004 Terrorist attack on School #1 In Beslan, where children were the premeditated target, and over 331 people died, including over 184 children, Pat decided to go to Beslan with an international group of children and adults, to memorialize those lost with a new section of the banner.

School #1 Beslan 01-19-05

Our role as filmmakers documented this visit and tells the story about the power of a small group of caring individuals on a mission to convey the healing power of compassion to the people of Beslan.

Click here to view a video clip

Pat Montandon and Peacemaker Koko Kondo from Japan in Moscow 01-18-05

Pat's vision of a new section of banner included not only the names of those lost in the Beslan tragedy, but their photographs as well. This effort brought us in direct contact with many of the family members affected and left us deeply moved and inspired by their love and strength in the face of such loss. The banner for Beslan actually started its journey at the Robert Lewis Stevenson Elementary School in Burbank, California where 4th and 5th graders helped sew on white silk doves they had cut out themselves and also wrote the names of those children lost in the attack onto the fabric. One of those kids, Kathy Henry, age 10, (pictured below) went along as a Peacemaker with the banner to Beslan.

Kathy and Nora connecting names with faces for the banner

As well as putting together the video, Andrew coordinated the effort in Beslan to put the hundreds of photos of those lost onto the banner. His solution was to photograph the pictures of those killed with a digital camera, on-site, then download them onto an iBook, edit them as needed, and print them out onto ink-jet fabric transfer sheets (designed for making t-shirts). He brought most equipment with him including the paper and printer, etc. While the filmmaking was planned to be Andrew's central activity the photo project became one of the most moving experiences of the trip for him as he was able to meet many of the families who lost children and other family members. Meeting them firsthand and seeing them bring their treasured photos of the people they lost, scanning the faces and then placing them on the banner, and then finally seeing the banner as a whole and being just a small part of bringing hope and remembrance and compassion to the people of Beslan was deeply moving.

Katheren Henry (10-year old Kathy's Grandma) shows a freshly printed photograph to survivors of the Beslan tragedy.

"We had 4 days in Beslan to gather the pictures and get them onto the banner. It was truly incredible the way every member of our group and all of those working with us, pulled together to make our vision of the banner a reality. Although there was not enough time to get all of the pictures and names, we were able to create the beginning of a new 300 foot section of this beautiful red silk Banner of Hope, and on our last day in Beslan, we were joined by people from the town to walk the banner through the community from School #1 to the town's center Cultural Palace, where we had a brief and moving memorial ceremony." - Andrew Andersen Note: The Banner was completed and returned to Beslan in September 2005.

Bob Fox at work while Yana, Nora, Zalina, and Diana write the names of those lost in Russian.

"This trip has surely changed my life. To see what we saw in Beslan, to work side by side with those wonderful people, to have the mother of a murdered child hand me a picture of the love of her life, and ask me to document it so the uniqueness, and importance of that short life will not be forgotten by the world... This is something I will never forget." - Andrew Andersen

Zaya and Andrew meet with one of the mothers of Beslan

Children as the Peacemakers organization members and our new friends at the Beslan Airport.

Bob Fox and Andrew accompanied Pat Montandon on a return trip to Beslan in September of 2005 to partake in the memorial commemorations marking the first anniversary of this terrible event. They visited old friends and made new ones. The documenting of this trip can be seen in the 54:00 minute documentary here

I would like to thank all of you who helped or were in prayer for this mission, and ask that you continue in prayer for the people of Beslan and their healing from this tragedy and the success of the film we have made to further the cause of compassion.

I also want to give special thanks to Rebecca and Davina Dixon for the photographs on this page, and the great Canadian spirit they brought to the effort.