We were five days in to a nine-day trip when we pulled up to the guard post at Za’atari camp in northern Jordan. We’d seen the news stories and heard the statistics: There are 79,000 people living as refugees in temporary housing while they wait for the war to end in Syria or for UN refugee resettlement and placement.
In a place where I was expecting to find hopelessness and defeat, there is indeed unimaginable pain.
But it was at Za’atari, where I learned about how people living as refugees are also living as real-life heroes, as they create the world of their dreams through mentoring and a wide variety of training and learning programs.
It was there where I walked hand in hand with some of the bravest, most beautiful women I've ever met, whose faces and stories will be forever etched in my mind.
And even though we have differences when it comes to our cultures and languages and faiths, we have so many things in common. We zumba'd and crafted and cooked together, talking about what life has been like for them for the past five years. There were no cookbooks or measuring cups. No fancy slicers or dicers. Through lots of do-what-I-do demonstration, with a handful of dull knives, around a little folding table, we chopped and diced and mixed and stirred and I learned how to make the best Tabouleh I've ever tasted.
I learned from them about the way they are bringing life and hope and love to this season of their lives and their corner of the world.
Through these new friends and the work of Questscope, I learned at Za’atari what unimaginable pain turned into indescribable hope looks like.
Our friends at Willow Creek Community Church visited our Youth Center in Za'atari Camp last spring. Over the next few weeks, we'll be sharing some of their reflections and observations.