Thursday, April 11, 2013

In the Refugee Camp...

Decorating flip-flops with Syrian women

       I had the opportunity to go with some women to the refugee camp here. We did a craft with the Syrian women; 'making' flip-flops. Someone had donated a ton of shoes, and so we had beads and fake flowers, etc. to decorate them with. The women loved it--and it was practical, too, because they all need shoes very badly!
I did not take pictures of the camp itself--don't ask me why; I just didn't! But this camp looks like all of them: thousands of dirty tan tents with UNHCR printed on the side, gravel, dirt, dust...little Syrian kids running around everywhere; adorable and dirty. I will say that my admiration of the UN went up several notches. They seem to be doing a pretty good job dealing with the massive influx of refugees from Syria, considering everything.

The lady I came with had promised a Syrian woman that she would come visit her tent; this was a big deal to her--they are all super hospitable! So when we were done with the crafts, the Syrian lady--I will call her 'Lisa'--got in our car and showed us the way to her tent. According to the woman I came with, this particular family had kept their tent and little children remarkably clean. There were a few flies buzzing around, but that was it as far as "squalor" goes :) A large group of other Syrian women came too, and so we sat around, chatting, smiling, and drinking first juice and then coffee (like I said, these people are super hospitable, and even if that was the last of their coffee or juice, they would have made us drink it!). I think we were in Lisa's tent for about an hour. When I say chatting, I did not talk much, except to one woman right next to me who knew some phrases in English. Mostly I listened to the banter in Arabic, and one of the people I came with (I'll call her "Betty"), would translate for me and tell me what was going on. Betty's Arabic was very good, by the way! A thirteen year old girl in Lisa's family had been in a room (in Syria) with about 13 people when a rocket or a bomb hit it. Miraculously, no one was killed and this girl was not injured. I assume that the family left Syria soon afterwards. The woman sitting next to me asked at one point; "Do you like Jordan?" and I said, 'yes, I like it a lot!'. She told me, "Syria is much better!" :) They love their country. Apparently Syria is much more beautiful than Jordan--lots of women are saying that!

I have been amazed by the strength and resiliency that the Syrian women I've met have shown. They may have had their homes destroyed and family members in the army, or many harrowing and difficult experiences in their past, yet they are able to sit around, smoke a cigarette and laugh and joke about their husband maybe getting a second wife or how their sister married a really ugly man (he was bald, apparently), and yet he was very good to her and the family loves him!! It is really impressive. Though the pain is deep inside, they manage an outward appearance of strength. It is that pain deep inside that only Jesus Christ can heal.