Syrian Refugee Camp

During this time of giving gratitude and spending time with the people that matter most, I ran across this blog from six years ago…

I’m sharing it again below.

May we continue to marshal all our life energy to do the work in the world we most care about ~ it needn’t be anything but that which connects deeply with your creativity, truth, values and how you make sense of things in the world (how you *create* meaning).

Happy holiday season to you! 

REFUGEE SUPPORT STORY, Day 2: Today I held a baby. It was a lesson is receiving.  

Though the Syrian and Afghan community here don’t speak Greek: efkaristo ~ thank you.

As volunteers, we are here to give — giving is why we came. 

But, as we have walked to pass out tickets, giving families specific times to “shop” for clothes, they’ve invited us in as friends. 

They’ve proudly asked us in to show us how they’ve decorated their new pods (they moved from their tents a day before I arrived after heavy rains).

Some had created pretty living rooms to one side of their bedrooms (each “room” about two feet away from one other). 

Others hung tarps in front of their pods to create additional sitting space to hang out in the morning, or at night, and to protect the front of it from the rain. Some of the shoes they had received earlier were now just outside the doors sitting on makeshift shelving.

Not all the receiving was easy for them, but, we each tried to find a way to ease those feelings by saying I’m sorry, I know and it makes me sad, too.

Yesterday, I think back to one family making and breaking bread outside on and around the fire. They had offered us some….

No, no, no…but, thank you.

They offered again.

No, no, (please — take), oh, no, ok, ok THANK YOU. Thank you so much. (Not all the receiving was easy for them — us — but, we each tried…). 

Cutting to this afternoon, as it started to rain, a couple of us were out again to pass out a few more tickets. 

A man, as he was sitting near the fire with his family, beginning to chat with us about when he could come get shoes and clothes, said, We make coffee. You see? (showing us the coffee in his glass cup), Please…try, you want to try? Try, try…

It smelled delicious. 

No, n- ok, (he’s handing us some) ok, THANK YOU. Thank you so much. 

Today was a lesson in saying yes to receiving, while also deeply respecting that the relationships made and ended here will likely pain both the volunteer and refugee (do relationships made ever, actually, end or does the feeling started always live, therefore the connection always lives?).

This pause — simply entertaining the question is a lesson in saying yes to receiving.

In short, even knowing the camp guidelines of not getting too close are clear and understandable, the experience was one of not being able to fight connection. 

We may love to give, it may even be the job at hand, but might we be denying others their human right of giving and what that, too, feels like, and enlivens and heals in us? 

The last two hours of the day gifted me with holding a three-month-old baby while his mom and dad tried on clothes — a baby whose very essence gives and receives, at the same time, is ultimately unique. There’s no seesawing to decide which, or if, just both, and easily at same time. 

Our essence is both, and easily, at the same time.

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