There was quite a stir in the air when this Moabit Egakam went viral. The picture of Joshua Bellamy, ex-Jet, moments after sentencing to three years in order to pay back the international aid money that made his career, had already put him at the top of the conversation.
From writing in the Moabit, “I see you’re dead wrong, Josh”, to people writing comments of “common sense prevailed” and “Because beggars don’t become beggars because their pots fill up with food”, all reactions were one of surprise and heartbreak for Bellamy that even the establishment in whom he placed his confidence had reversed its decision.
So how did Josh happen to lose a great opportunity to assist many in Kyrgyzstan? He had the opportunity to go to Syria to join Isis after the video on the part of three Americans who claimed to have left IS’s side.
Bellamy was just 15 when he sent a photo of himself on Twitter to an Isis recruit. How can someone he didn’t even know thought that he would be welcome? When he sent the photo he was with his father and was trying to convince him to go to Syria with him. You might ask, “Why do people like this do what they do?” We often, for short periods, bring these individuals into our fold because of the amount of media attention that they command. Then we leave them to their deaths and wonder why we were wrong. “Why did they lie about love to our hearts? Why,” we ask, “did they touch the lives of so many through their art, their ingenuity and yes, their brilliant minds?”
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The people of the Moabit wish to help guide them through this difficult time, and this is what they have done with their article. By setting up this project, we hope to show “Josh” that from now on, even though he has lost his wings and is no longer flying, he can continue to make a difference. It gives us the hope that eventually he will live up to the high standards he set himself when he achieved his dream of going to Kyrgyzstan.
Let us remember that this is a child that spent so much time out of the country, which makes him much more experienced than the people he is trying to help. He knows how things work there and with whom to do business. So the circle of corruption in Kyrgyzstan will not be simple. We will need to make sure we are able to capture information and create future experiences that will help him learn from them. One can find real jobs easily, and let there be a culture that sticks to learning the right thing.
But in the meantime, it is time to let go of Josh’s wings and keep looking for fresh opportunities. Let the authorities and Josh try to forget about the international assistance that they were promised if they joined the jihad. Let us remember that the internet brings communities together and, in the absence of rules and resources, people collaborate wherever they can. Please stand by Josh, and remember this as the chain of betrayal and treachery is unraveling.
• Joshua Bellamy was sentenced in August to three years in the international aid scheme, sent to UK as a teenager. The Moabit Egakam helps present the story of charity workers to young people in Kyrgyzstan