In Syria, destruction is the first harsh reality we face. We only see ruins. I've been here for a month now, but I'm still shocked by the brutality of the landscape. A few days ago, I went to a new reconstruction site, but this time it was not a church, or any other building, it was a family home. Just as I was moved by the testimonies of the elderly, I was moved by Rim's family.
It is in the middle of a desert, in a stifling heat, that I get out of the car. Around me I only see stones, sand, and plastic debris. A few trees here and there, but the scenery is sad, and it even looks like everything is abandoned. Indeed, only two houses under construction are chugging along on this land.
At first glance they look like awkwardly raised stones, with only a few planks of wood as a roof.
I take some pictures of the outside work and see the workers already at work. On a poor wooden ladder, which does not look like much, they relentlessly climb and descend in order to finish the roof. The heat is hard to bear, and after several photos I sit in the shade for a few moments, before resuming. In front of me these craftsmen continue for hours to carry stones, climb the ladder, descend it. I never stop admiring them, and deep down, questioning myself: "How would you react if you were them? ".
When I cross the threshold of the house, small stones break the roof and fall in front of me. Inside there is nothing; or rather nothing habitable: iron almost completely rusted scaffolding, construction tools like axes, or shovels, and above all a pile of stone. Painfully I take my photos, always watching where I set foot, because it is easy fall. And it was during this difficult crossing that I saw in front of me, a little guy with beautiful blond curls, who must not be more than two years old, staring at me with wide eyes.
I smile at him, and certainly more impressed with the flash on my camera than myself, he runs off. More agile than me, he easily joins the rest of the group, while I difficultly find my way through all this site.
This little boy, who is still just a baby, has a smile on his face, joy in life and sparkling eyes although he lives in extremely difficult conditions. He doesn't realize it and he probably never will! What a great lesson in life. As soon as I look at him, I see him happy although he has nothing; or rather, nothing material, because he is surrounded by the love of those close to him. In a few photos, I understand that happiness is not in what you have. We can have all the gold in the world, all the houses in the world, but without love we do not live and we don’t know what true happiness is.
A family member hands me a local pastry that I savor and takes me for coffee in the other house next to the one pictured previously.
This is where they live. Only the presence of a sofa and some furniture makes it a more livable house than its neighbor. But we don't see any insulation, no windows or what may seem essential for living. Yet I see them proud. A while back, there weren't all these pieces of furniture, rugs, sofas. Their work is progressing slowly, but moving forward and they are happy. Their happiness is simple, and it is this simplicity that strikes me. They thank me for being here today, and inside I thank them for being who they are, and for giving me so much.
I am in front of something that is totally beyond me, that I do not understand, but yet moves me deep inside. I know it, I feel it, all this forges me and will remain engraved in me and will give me a shout for the rest of my life.
This meeting moved me. We didn't say anything to each other though, because we don't speak the same language, but a look, an intention, and I saw their strength, their ability to be satisfied with little, to thank life for what they have, and for not blaming it for what they don't have. I understood that happiness, depends only on us. We just have to see what we makes us happy about and not look for what could make us happy. I saw the love of this family which is particularly moving, and I can only wish myself the same love, more than a beautiful home.
The reconstruction of this house was made possible thanks to a former volunteer of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient. Touched by their urgent needs, and certainly moved by the young age of these children, she wanted to give them the chance, the possibility of a peaceful future.
In Syria, there are thousands of families like Rim’s. To all, war took a loved one; to all, it left painful memories but to all, it gave the ability to never give up and fight to continue living and hoping. So today, help them live again and give them a roof to live under.
Joséphine, volunteer in Syria.