Yesterday, our day ended with three visits with families who have fled their home country south of where we are visiting. Their stories of tragedy, violence and loss break our hearts. I found it hard to go to sleep when we went to bed at the guesthouse.
We heard of a father who rescued many from bombed buildings and carried the dead to be buried. We learned of a young daughter who witnessed a teenage boy killed by a sniper. One family shared how they had fled to different parts of Aleppo until they finally had to leave the country. They often went without food and water for days even though they had family in a safe area who could have helped them but didn’t. They lost family to dysfunction complicated by war.
Over and over again, the families said they would rather die than go into a camp because the conditions are so horrible there. Their living conditions in the city are far from ideal and many have to send their children to work at very young ages in order to pay the rent. Some families are exploited by their landlords and forced to pay a higher electric bill than other families.
One family we visited last night have been here for 3 years. They lived in the war for 1 year. Since being in this city he has had a small shop that has provided for them. But, lately, people from this host country are shaking him down for protection money and stealing from his shop. After going to the police and learning they will not help him, he has come to the sad conclusion he must close his shop. They are unsure of how they will survive without his work.
Before we made these home visits, we visited with our hosts. They shared their vision and passion for this place as well as the roadblocks and barriers they run into all the time. Patiently they answered our questions and challenged our thinking.
It was raining this morning when we walked to the center we are visiting. Though we are hearing hard stories and our hearts are sad, our spirits are not dampened. Tonight, we get to meet some young people and spend time with them. Your prayers will be very appreciated!