Harvest hope: 'to live in this world and love one another'

 

Fadia and her family ran a successful business selling hummus, falafel and fool, a local breakfast delicacy, to restaurants in their hometown.

Then everything changed.

Explosions shattered their neighbourhood, and the family were afraid to leave their home. Even if they could have travelled safely, their schools were shut.

Fadia’s children helped her and her husband try to keep their business going by making local deliveries. However, when their 13-year-old son Tariq narrowly escaped death from air raids, they came to the difficult decision to leave Syria.

The family left everything they knew, their home, friends and community, for the relative safety of Lebanon.

But life in Lebanon can be lonely and hard. There was no school for the children and no way of earning a living. Fadia’s children were terrified of sudden noises and she tells of them seeing a plane in the sky and crying ‘Mama, it will bomb us!’

Yet for all the memories of violence and terror, it was something much simpler that finally broke Fadia’s heart. Tariq was trying to provide for his family doing simple, small tasks for their neighbours including taking their children’s schoolbags out to the car each morning.

‘I used to cry when I watched from the window as he carried down their backpacks,’ said Fadia. ‘I cried to myself that my son should be the one going to school, not carrying down their bags.’

Fadia had never needed or wanted to accept help from anyone: ‘In [Syria], to be honest, we weren’t wealthy, but we lived comfortably and never in our life had we asked for assistance from someone. But now we’re in a strange country and everything’s expensive. And the children, you don’t want them to feel that you don’t have something, [but] if they ask for something, you have to say, “There isn’t any.’”

Swallowing her pride, Fadia visited the local church which she had been told was helping refugees.

The first thing she found there was an education project, funded by Embrace. Fadia immediately registered her children and now Tariq and his siblings go to school every day. The children had been out of education for a year but their teachers helped them through the initial challenges, and bit by bit they improved in their studies and began to re-adjust. Focussing on schoolwork and finding new friends has enabled them to move forward from the fear that had taken over their lives.

Fadia also enrolled in adult English courses. When asked what she wants to see in the future – her response is heartfelt:

‘Every person wants, and I want, to see my children in the most beautiful position. For there to be hope, to return, for this war to stop, for this blood to stop. And for this world, to live in this world and love one another, to return to loving one another.’

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, some of Syria’s ‘lost generation’ is continuing to receive an education. Christians across the Middle East are providing emergency aid as well as running schools, hospitals, and more, serving local people and those displaced and far from home.

We know many Christians in the UK want to help refugees but don’t always know how. So, we’ve created a free Harvest fundraising pack to help celebrate the season where our minds turn to the food and gifts we have, while helping raise money for projects that change the lives of people like Fadia and her family.

 

This blog originally appeared on Greenbelt in July 2016.