Hi. It's been a couple days since my last post. It's been a bit of a whirlwind of activity and there is so much to say and I don't know how to say what is in my heart. In Jordan we went to a huge refugee camp, but we weren't able to get out of the car. We didn't get to hear personally the stories of some of the people. However, in Lebanon, we got to visit some families in their homes. One neighborhood we went to visit in Beirut is called Naba'a. It is a densely populated area that is receiving a surge in population, due to the Syrian civil war. Jobs have become slim as the demand is far outweighing the supply. The locals are growing tired of this. Rent costs have skyrocketed. One bedroom apartments are now housing on average 12 people. Then, the area is very territorial. There are pockets of people now, who simply do not like each other. "Do not like" is putting it mildly. There are Turkish areas, next to the Armenians. The Armenians hate the Turks and express it quite vividly with large graffiti saying "F Turkey". Then there are problems with Shia vs. Sunni Muslims hating one another. In the mix, with an increasing presence/influence, is a group called Hezbollah (click to find out more on them). They are sort of the "protectors", at least in their own eyes. Gang violence is becoming a norm along with prostitution...
All this to say, there are families living in the midst of all this. Many have small children. We got to meet some of the families here. Some are Christian, some or Muslim. Both have lost greatly in terms of losing family members to war. Some have simply lost contact for months, unaware of how loved ones are, if they are still alive. Some left, with their homes destroyed, and only wearing the clothes on their back. They are left with nothing to go back to.
As we were walking through the neighborhood, we saw many of the personalities at play, it was all hitting me. The anonymous was becoming a little more personal. You read about places like this in the news, or hear of as places to avoid. It's places in far away countries. In the news, they're just statistics, or a countless mob of another religion fighting inward and outwardly. I could think back over the years of hearing "they're all terrorists, they're all evil, they're all wrong, they should be killed, they're all hateful"...and to be honest, I've felt those at times too. But in meeting some of them, who just want to feed their children and have a job, I gained a desire for all these in this neighborhood, to be blessed. Then a fear started growing in my mind. What will happen these people? Will the fighting grow into bombs? How will outsiders view them? How can I help?
Seeing the baby picture above, here's food for thought. Psychologists say we're mostly all products of our environment. If we all start as babies, what will this one become?