By Ilyas Choudry, TMO
Mr. Ilyas Choudry, our regional editor from Houston, seen in the middle with the cap, with the Syrian refugee family.
Photo by Ilyas Choudry, TMO
I and Brother Irfan Khurshid spent two days in Lebanon visiting several Syrian families.
This was an amazing trip.
I want to share some quite touching moments.
I will not be mentioning the names of the places, where we met these families: Some of you will know, where they are.
Now the Government of Lebanon has not allowed tented refugees camps.
So local Lebanese are hosting most of the Syrian families, and some are living in temporary huts made of bricks & corrugated metallic roofs, along the sea; and AlhumdulilAllah are being helped by NGOs, including Helping Hand For Relief & Development (HHRD): Much much more assistance is needed.
We distributed food ration & children gifts; and met some Syrian families, who are living in an apartment complex being constructed, and owner has given them the place to live at nominal rent (which is being paid by a local NGO): These families were middle to lower middle class in Syria, and are in trauma living away from home in one bedroom apartments: Most of the brothers were injured and in real bad condition: One of them has lost his legs: Other had brain injuries: Hopefully we will relate the story of Tasneem from this place soon.
We also met Syrian families at an abandoned school, which has been converted into refugee camp, where majority of the children were orphans, having lost their fathers: Some children were few months old.
Wherever we went, we tried our best to make the children feel happy: So we played games: Like teaching them how to do high fives; having race with them; hold smaller kids & run with them among the older kids; gave them cookies, chocolates, chips, etc.
When we tried to take the pictures, each kid wanted to sit in our lap (maybe missing their fathers).
Tears came to my eyes, when one small kid asked me to bend down and he kissed my cheek: This was after we gave them cookies, chocolates, & chips: I thought where I have come from (USA), we take these things for granted for our kids, and look this kid is so happy that he has given a special kiss on my cheek: The Gift of my lifetime.
After this kid kissed me, I also hugged, kissed him on the head.
Another kid looked at me, longing for similar gesture: So I took his hand and kissed it: Many kids saw this, and began to ask for my hand, kissed my hands, and put my hands on their eyes: I wanted to cry aloud, but had to control myself: Totally heart wrenching.
Later on we went to a rehab and prosthetic center, where we met a lady, who read us a poetry in Arabic (we have the video).
In the poem she said something like this – World: So much has happened and you are quiet: Why Why.
Do you know who is this lady: She is a lady, who has lost two of her legs, lost her husband, lost her two children of four and two years: And do you know she was smiling, saying Allah SWT had written this in her fate and she has totally accepted it with a smile: Her only wish is to return back to a happy and prosperous Syria, living among her fellow country-persons: Another totally touching story to listen to: Really I was dumbfounded for a while imagining, if I do not have two legs & still have to live, what state will I be in? But here is someone, she has lost everything, but in actuality, she has gained so much in achieving the Faith in Allah SWT, in coming out of this extreme hardship.
There was one kid here, all smiles, having lost one leg: He loves to bike, but had never got one in life: His main concern was not to have lost the leg, but main concern was how will he ever ride a bike: Such a passion for something we take for granted: Doctor working on his prosthetic is confident that soon he will able to bike and the first bike he will get is from his doctor: We told the boy that although the determination he has shown in these painful times, he has already won all of the races, but InshaAllah he will be winning bike race competitions as well.
We also met five other young persons in their late twenties and early thirties, with legs lost, and getting excellent treatment.
We went to a nice hilly area, where on the hills, there are nice apartment buildings; but at the bottom of the hills, we saw homes made of bricks, and on top they have metallic roofs: People of Lebanon, over here make small huts like homes by making bricks themselves, and then housing their relatives from Syria.
We met a Syrian sister, whose Brother-in-Law had made a home for her and nine children.
She lost her husband: Not just lost her husband: Her husband was killed and then burnt: This is happening to many men in Syria that they are not only killed, but in fact they are burnt.
It was absolutely nightmarish, to listen to such a story from a widow: But again she has reconciled with this situation and trying very hard.
Outside we met her and other Syrian children in the area, and played a few games with them: Smiles of these children are worth millions.
These are just a few stories that we learned & saw.
There are hundreds and thousands like these; these stories are simply piling every day; and you know just a short visit to them make them feel happy: Really something that can be felt and not written in words.
These were few Syrian stories, but then we also went to a Palestinian Camp, and believe me; I never ever imagined such a horrible place to live: Absolutely unimaginable conditions they are facing: I have seen many Kutchi Abadis in Pakistan, which are almost similar to what I saw here.
But never thought people do Wadu and take shower with Saltish Water, which causes skin diseases: I did Wadu for Mughrib and my mouth was sour for many hours: As they say in Urdu: To punish someone, send him or her to Kara Pani: That is what this place is. Imagine living in a place, where streets are about two to three feet, have all the utility wires and pipes in the open going over your head and sometimes around your feet: Not suitable for human habitat at all, but our Palestinians Brothers & Sisters in humanity are living here for decades: How & Why? Cannot answer that.
We learned from there that there are many Orphans there and they need our support.
More to come InshaAllah.