Today was one of those days that will forever be engrained in my mind. The day I was literally so close yet so far away from Syria, probably the closest I’ll ever get to it in my entire life, and the day I was confronted with physical displacement as a result of the war.
We visited a few more schools today to deliver food packages and were able to sit in on classes and interact with the children. For those of you who might be new here, I’m a primary school teacher and so the classroom is one of my many homes. You’re probably aware of me feeling some kind of way about children, and the feeling is pretty mutual when it comes to education.
What I found myself reflecting upon had nothing to do with my current location or the refugee children, but rather the obnoxious privilege so many in the ‘first world’ entertain when it comes to education. Specifically this whole ‘back-to-school’ thing where hundreds of dollars are spent on paper and books and stationary and matching bags with light up shoes and new clothes and the list is really freaking endless! I’m discovering that I’ve got an issue with the term ‘privilege’ and how it is both defined and acted upon by different people.
The organization also assists with a Quranic school so that students can continue their religious education as they did in Syria. Students from the Springs of Hope center attend at different times and we managed to catch some boys who were super eager to showcase their recitation skills.
I was able to talk myself into a few homes (for hugs and pictures of course), and managed to secure a ‘flayflay’ (red chili) and a branch from an olive tree. The warmth and kindness of the Syrian people exudes this genuine heartfelt goodness and kindness which is so beautiful. They want to talk to you and with you and hold your hand and perhaps just turn the world off for a mere 5 minutes to engross themselves with a ‘too-reest’. And I want to sit and have tea with each and everyone one of them, and hear their stories, and give my undivided attention solely to them as though no one else in the world matters at all, and I promise I try my bestest to do so but its impossible to do so.
I’ve begun to consistently wander off, within reason of course, when we arrive at a new place because I want to physically reach out to as many people as possible and make the most of me being here. And I may look a bit craycray hugging and kissing all these children but their presence alone is a massive blessing, a symbol of survival and hope for a better future. Hope is a finicky entity because it either makes or breaks a person. It has the potential to uplift and grant its holder blind faith that something better is coming, that everything terrible up until this point is in preparation for goodness, but you’ve got to be headstrong and ensure that that faith never wavers. Which is unbelievably difficult when you’re surrounded by people who have faith yet have been waiting ages for its results to pan out. When the next person is in just a dire situation as I am, if not worse, yet I’m still meant to remain steadfast in hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel which appears to never end. I don’t get it.
I don’t think any of us were prepared, mentally and emotionally, for our visit to the refugee camps. I envisioned tents, organized systematic rows of sandy-beige tents with enough space to house a family of 5-6.
A compound. A freaking compound consisting of a few concrete slab shacks fitted with a roof of tarp. No set of flats or 21st century living structures, just tarp, wood, and concrete. Remember when you’d go camping or even make a play fort at home with a massive curtain draped in no particular way so long as it somewhat covered the top bit? Envision that, ever so slightly bigger, and then a family of 5 or more permanently residing underneath. That’s home. That space which is smaller than most of our personal bedrooms is the kitchen, living room, main room, nursery, bedroom etc. with no real address, is home. And its heartbreaking. I hardly think anyone would willingly opt to live under such circumstances, and again what I can’t wrap my head around is that it wasn’t always like this! These people weren’t born into it, nor it being a life or lifestyle they chose in pursuit of attaining something more than, they literally had no choice! Imagine the state of despair having to make that crucial decision from living in fear of death by war, to what exactly? Living? This isn’t living. Nobody in this day and age should be subjected to, and expected to lead a life based solely upon survival of the fittest nor under such conditions.
I think it affected us all in different ways, more so because no one has ever experienced anything like it before. Although I was able to debrief my feelings and experience with a couple people I’ve become friends with, and I know mama is always there to listen to my stories, I do wish we as a group had the opportunity to sit and talk about all of it. Both prior to, and post. To help make sense of such a significant shared experience which I’m sure we’re all a little distraught over. The time spent at those particular camps is the closest we’ve been to the border crossing thus far. Imagine waking up every morning, being able to physically see your homeland, your home and entire state of belonging, knowing you have loved ones right over that fence, and unable to do anything about it. If that isn’t the utmost description of helplessness, I don’t know what is. So close yet so far away.
We head to a few more camps tomorrow, and although we have a better idea of what we might see, its what we can’t unsee which I’m afraid of. Please keep each and every one of these people, and all those around the world who are in similar, if not worse situations in your thoughts and prayers. Give if you can, pray if you can, go if you can. But we must do something. Quietly. Not for us, but for them. xo
Again, do stay posted on instagram/instastory here for videos of the area and speakings with the refugees who share their stories. just for an added bit of live insight if anything x