Day 15: Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Saksha Menezes, United Kingdom
One thing we often comment on, as volunteers, is how easy it is to forget that there is a refugee camp beyond the gates of Jurrahiya school or the things these children have gone through.
I have been teaching a group of 8-year-olds and they are mischievous and energetic in a way that can be expected from that age group. Some of my favorite moments include turning around to see a student is drawing on his teeth with green crayon, other students chuckling with cheeky glee, or children returning to class soaking wet from the daily water fights after I let them wash their hands at the water fountain.
Their enthusiasm is also incredibly infectious. Despite my incredibly limited Arabic, their constant ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ are appreciated by this tired and nervous volunteer. Definitely one of my favorite activities was when I did a baking soda and vinegar volcano outside and it was met with shrieks of joy and I was repeatedly handed water to do the experiment again and again.
Given my daily experiences with these joyful, happy, hilarious children, it is incredibly sad to reflect on what they have gone through in their short lives. However, it has made me realize that these children do not need the sympathy and pity given to them by the western world, but instead, need that action to be taken to resolve this crisis.
We were told a story during orientation about an 11-year-old boy in a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut who complained about being congratulated on his resilience by foreigners. He viewed it as a western excuse for inaction. The strength that I have seen in these children, as young as 5 years old, should be applauded and praised but must not be used as an excuse for complacency. I know that the incredible, intelligent kids that I have met in the past month will go on to rebuild Syria but they cannot do it alone.