Unconditional Journey of the Heart - HHRD -
Our trip to Amman, Jordan was personal and professional; after the epidemic, annual study abroad programs for American institutions began. My professor's husband prepared a group of 10 students to study Arab culture and religion in the Middle East and North Africa region. This would be my first journey to one of our international locations, and I would be starting my thirteenth year with Helping Hand for Relief and Development. The chance to see coworkers I've known for years and, more crucially, spend time with beneficiaries whose tales brought me to tears as I told them to our US supporters filled me with excitement, nervousness, and appreciation.
Preparing for the journey of the heart
Nothing can fully prepare you for the trip of meeting someone who, despite having lost everything, their houses, their loved ones, and their health, continues to show gratitude for what little they still possess. Yet, as I approached the camps in Al Mafraq, Jordan, a lump rose in my throat, and questions raced through my mind: Would my kids be able to handle this experience? How could I adequately express my opinions despite the language barrier? Can I remain calm without losing it? Children raced and waved at his car as soon as Zayed, the operational manager of HHRD MENA, drove in front. He explained how these few dispersed Syrian refugees and poor Jordanian families needed regular water trucking deliveries because so many of them were becoming sick from drinking tainted water.
Bright smiles, invitations to tents, and requests to sit down for tea welcomed us. Family after the family came to greet us and tell us about themselves. Nearby these camps in Syria, a war-torn nation that produced refugees who fled to Al Mafraq, could be seen in the backdrop. The current refugees welcomed the newly arriving family into their makeshift housing until HHRD could secure their town tents. Just that day, another family had come with only a few items. Families have to deal with this reality; despite their efforts to move on with their life, they are constantly reminded of what they left behind even though it is only a few miles away.
Caring for one another - Heart fulfillment
As we moved through the camp, we handed out diapers, baby bags, and hygiene kits, and I took notes on the stories told. As my pen wrote down names, ages, and needs, I felt a sense of urgency. I was trusted by them and served as their gateway to the outside world. Thus, this was my obligation. I was presented as a writer for Helping Hand. I wrote page after page, story after narrative, and hardship after plight, so that's what I did. My heart was overflowing with feelings as I battled to control them while ensuring my own children knew the profoundly changing event they were going through.
Then, in front of his goat corral, a peaceful child named Yaqoob was sitting on top of an empty can. He timidly gazed up at us, and I was drawn to him right away. I shook his hand and wanted to know his name. Zero reaction. I played with his hair and smiled reassuringly. Zero reaction. What kind of trauma had he gone through so young? His skin felt almost leathery in texture and was extremely dry to the touch. Hisham highlighted how many children suffered from sunburn and other skin disorders after spending hours in the intense sun.
As I thought back to soaking my own children in sunscreen before coming here, my eyes began to well up. Beautiful Yaqoob with his dusty clothes sitting motionless on empty cans is imprinted in my memories; I held his hand and kissed it several times.
World Refugee Day serves as a reminder that every person deserves the right to protection, regardless their struggles. Whoever. Wherever. Whenever. They are regular people who encounter unusual situations. Over a million refugees, including Syrian, Palestinian, Yemeni, Rohingya, and Ukrainian ones, received aid from HHRD in 2021. International teams are collaborating with verified partner NGOs to deliver necessities including emergency aid, shelter assistance, help for orphans and education, skill development, water projects, and much more! Now is your time to change the world; go to www.hhrd.org/Refugees right away!