Written by Ms. Wafa Goussous
Director, Orthodox Initiative
Middle East Council of Churches Liaison in Jordan
Implementation of the Orthodox Initiative/Middle East Council of Churches’ winter appeal continued at Northern Badia, on the Jordanian side of the Jordan-Syria border. His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine and Jordan, sent a request from Jerusalem expressing his wish to visit the Syrian refugees at the borders.
Al-Badia al-Shamalia (Northern Badia ) is where hundreds of Syrian refugees are living in scattered camps. His Beatitude follows our work closely and wanted to check on the refugees’ conditions in this cold winter and to congratulate them on the occasion of al-Mawled al-Nabawi al-Sharif (the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, which is celebrated just like we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.)
On Dec .6, 2016, the convey started the journey at 8:30 am heading towards the North. Two representatives came with us from the United Church of Canada who were already scheduled to make this field visit. Our team had gone earlier to arrange the distribution method with our focal points at the camp.
Upon arrival, the children of the camp sung their best songs for His Beatitude and the delegation as a way of greeting and appreciating his visit. The men were standing in line to shake hands with the guests as a sign of respect and appreciation. One man was standing offering Arabic coffee and the women were present too. Tents were empty as all the people were out in reception of the guests. This is an Arab Syrian tradition to tell the guest how much they value the visit.
His Beatitude asked us to be part of the distribution. This time we brought to the children winter boots, hats and scarves, knowing that the winter weather conditions in this part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is very severe. We thought that these items should be delivered as early as possible. In addition to this, we distributed food parcels that contained 17 food items designed by the refugees themselves, as they have requested food that can give them more energy. Candy for children is an item we bring every visit we make to the camp.
Basma, a very young girl, was born with no hair on her head. She came dressed with a new hat and a red dress for the occasion, but to our surprise Basma looked so tiny this time. She has lost so much weight and was not speaking to us. Looking around at most of the children we all noticed that they did not look healthy. I carried Basma but she was like a feather in my arms .
We are determined to make a difference in this camp. Basma is just like any other girl in the world and she has the right to eat well and receive all that she needs to grow without any disease or disability. She was born without hair on her head but we must work to compensate her well-being.
In an interview on site, His Beatitude called upon the people of goodwill to step in as the international community and to take part in the burden that Jordan and the locals are carrying. He emphasized that more support must be raised for the children.
The school is a small tent where all the children were seated after receiving their boots, hats, scarves and candy. Content, their eyes looked so hopeful anticipating a bright future and they said “Shukran [Thank you]. Inshallah [God willing] you will visit us when we are back home in Syria.”