I’ve been here a week now. A week that overwhelms. A week that sears the heart. A week that begs to be thought about and prayed about and done something about.
(Readers - be sure to click on the photos so you can see a larger version of the picture.)
Ramadan is the young man I found here who has become my guide and interpreter. The Blackstar Group has also put him to work teaching families how to use the water filters. At the age of sixteen, he has leadership qualities and a work ethic that belie his tender age. He (like most people here) is a nominal Muslim. He believes, yet he is no fanatic. In a recent conversation, he explained that the maseha (Christians) were not so different from the Muslims. There is only one God, but there are many people – some bad (or very bad such as Bashar Assad), some good. He knows I am Christian and he said my being here must mean that Christians have a good heart.
“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” St. Francis of Assisi.
The human suffering around me is immense. I watch new arrivals come into the camp with apprehension on their faces. They don’t know what lies ahead – they just know they left death and destruction behind. This man’s luggage is nice – it probably means he was once comfortably middle-class, but now he will live in a tent. His neighbor may be an illiterate laborer – a man who would not have been his neighbor back in Syria. Here in the camp, all are now poor. What holds them together is that they are all poor, all want to go home, all are Kurdish and all rely on the friendship of others.
But it would seem it doesn’t take long for the human spirit to soar again. This lady doesn’t complain about the film left on her goblets by the malfunctioning dishwasher – she now is content to wash her dishes in a plastic tub – and she smiles.
As I sat down on the ground to talk to the head of a family (and refusing the immediate offer of tea), he was all smiles. His wife beamed at me and I watched their little boy eating some sort of mushy soup with relish. The child was obviously just one of many in family. I got down to his level to take the picture and as one of the nearby men helped me to my feet, I noticed the boy’s right leg seemed to be at an awkward angle. The father explained in fractured English that his son has a birth defect in the leg, preventing him from walking properly. The family is displaced, their son is a semi-invalid and they eat sitting on bare earth.
And they smile.
And I am humbled.