Saturday, August 31, 2013

And the Mountains Wept

Thirty minutes outside of Suli is an area called Arbat. Turn off the main road on to the gravel and dirt and slowly the tents begin to emerge. Straight rows of six that seem to reach the mountains, the UNHCR logo brightly emblazoned on the side. The summer wind whips up the dust, sometimes camouflaging them until they become one with the mountains. 

Syria is at war with itself. It's been going on for over two years and people have been fleeing to escape the destruction. An estimated one million seven hundred fifty thousand people are now refugees. I write out the figure because numbers are too easy to glance over, to add to the other statistics and factoids in our heads. These one million seven hundred fifty thousand people are spread over Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, and Algeria. Many of those countries themselves are dealing with their own turmoil. 

They are Christian and Muslim. They are mothers, sons, wives, fathers. They are high school teachers and oil drillers. They are children with dreams of their own. 

The four thousand refugees that arrived to the Arbat camp are no different. They are here because the other camps are full, because they fear that maybe their children would be the next ones to succumb to a chemical attack, because they have nowhere else to go. 

As I listened to each family list their possessions (4 mattress pads, 2 rugs, 1 water kettle, 1 AC unit, 2 coolers, 3 plastic tubs), I realized these were all items provided to them by a humanitarian organization. They fled with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

The UNHCR representatives said that this camp is a temporary one. That these people will soon be placed. I pray that is true. That schools and jobs can be found. That no child has to call that place home for more than a few months. 

Winter is on its way, and this far North the temperatures plummet. Snow caps the mountains that hover over the camp. I wonder if many will wish they had remained in Syria rather than be at the mercy of an unknown future. 

I have no poetic quote to tie up this story in a neat package; something we can tuck away and evaluate later when it's more comfortable or convenient.  

If you want to help, I encourage you to find a reputable organization you trust and make a donation. Pray. Keep loving people; all people of all colors and creeds. This hate and power-hoarding thing hasn't been working for eons. Maybe we could try hope, faith, and love for a change.  


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