Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Days Seven and Eight: Refugees at the Crossroads of the World

This city is a cross roads for many nations, and one of the tragic consequences of the many conflicts throughout the region is that tens of thousands refugees end up here.

Pam saw this situation close up yesterday. She worked much of the day in a refugee center that deals with people from as far away as Afghanistan. Mainly women and small children stay there; the husbands are trying desperately to find enough work to support them. An older couple—in their sixties—run the place. They came over from our nation without a clear idea of what they’d do here, only that they wanted to do something to make a difference in the suffering.

Jake, Cecie and I spent much of our day with the group of refugees who are our partners. We helped them put together small packets including the material we helped bring over here then walked through the teeming streets handing the material out. It was an amazing experience doing this work, with the haunting call to prayer reverberating throughout the city.

Cool moment: on the way through the city, we caught a train out of the station where the famed Orient Express used to arrive. For a lifelong Agatha Christie fan, I couldn’t help but to drag our friend Kevin into a quick pic. Sorry, had to blur his face a little:

We had dinner last night with another one of our worker’s families. Great young family, struggling to find their place here after being thrown out of the nation they had previously served. This kind of thing is happening more and more throughout the region.

On the up side, they did have satellite TV and we were able to watch some of the Braves/Phillies spring game. The Braves scored six runs in the top of the first inning, while we cheered the whole time (the husband is a UGA grad and a lifelong Braves fan, which obviously proves his deep spiritual maturity); in the bottom of the same inning, though, the Phillies scored five runs themselves. I didn’t see the end of the game but it had to have been something like 30-25.

Today we had a ball with our main national worker, a refugee whom we’ve come to love in just a few days. He and his family had us over to lunch, a four-hour affair that began at one o’clock with tea and ended up at four o’clock with more tea. In between, we ate a splendid ethnic meal. Here is a quick pic of the dishes, including the main rice dish, with saffron; deep-fried chicken; a lentil/potato dish; and—best of all—some delicious thing that was the bottom, crispy portion of the cooked rice that was sort of like hash browns, only better. Man, I ate a bunch of that.

Tomorrow we’ll be passing out more material. Then a trip to the Spice Market, to spend some money. Then packing. We leave Thursday morning at 3:30AM and get back to Lexington sometime after Zero Dark Thirty. Yikes.

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