I remember at the beginning of September when the end of my mission seemed so distant! I had just arrived in Syria, a country that attracted me but I knew so little. I ran out of time ! I still have so much to learn! Yet I'm preparing myself to return to France, to say goodbye to this mission, and to all those who accompanied me, who watched me grow, and thrive here.
Syria. Just hearing that name, I have a big smile. Who knew it? And yet it's true. When I first set foot on Syrian soil, I didn't expect to experience everything I've experienced, meet everyone I've met or hear everything I've heard. I came to get to know myself, know who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, give what I had received, and finally be useful, and find my place.
But what I received is even more beautiful, and beyond anything I could have imagined. Today I know who I am, I discovered passions I wouldn't even have suspected, I made friends that I can always count on. I've been in touch with those who suffered, lost everything and yet taught me something. Sometimes I was scared, but they guided me.
Syrians are not afraid. They have nothing left, but they believe. They believe in themselves, in providence, that nothing is the fruit of chance and that a blink of heaven can give hope. Because yes, even when it's dark, the stars shine. When in our life everything is dark, a glimmer of hope always lights up. Nothing is ever lost.
Throughout this mission, they believed in me, and pulled me up. I've learned in a variety of fields, but most importantly to listen, take time to listen and learn from it. I've learned to rely on others, to surpass yself and not have a limit, to always go further eventually, without necessarily going faster.
I learned to believe, not to be afraid, to take Syrians as an example of strength and courage. I learned that there was good everywhere, and that the least thing soothes hearts.
At Aleppo, we regularly work on reconstruction sites, such as the school Amal. I mave seen misery there. A family of five were staying in a shelter; it wasn't even a home. And despite their misfortune, they smiled at life.
Before we started clearing out school rubbles, we always spent some time with the kids. Then from the top of the buildings, we bent over to the windows to spot them playing downstairs, before joining them a few hours later. When I could, I would bring them a cake or candies. The look they gave me was worth all the gold and thanks in the world. These are special moments, disconnected from any reality!
Seeing all these destroyed and looted houses, ransacked schools, children playing on an old battlefield, where you can't walk 10m without finding old casings. None of this can leave you indifferent. Being in front of so many ruins, destruction, so much misfortune, and sometimes having to soothe hearts, dry tears, I don't have the words.
It's inexplicable experiences, strong and indefinable feelings that invade you unannounced, like this day, when in a donation, I was surprised by a lady who puts my well-being before hers.
All families receive us warmly, to the extent that it is often difficult to leave. So we stay long hours exchanging and discovering the daily life of our guests. But today it was different. A lady, old enough, alone, throws the keys to us from the window. She is so sick, it is impossible for her to get up.
Do I barely have time to put the donation bag down and introduce myself, she take my hand and say: ′′I can't move, you're young, and outside the weather is nice, leave that here, and Go out and enjoy." She had just dismissed me! Even after several months of mission, I do not know what to answer to so much concern but I am touched by this kindness.
I attend moments of celebration, where the culture lag makes me smile. I find out another way of doing things, and often I would never have thought of. But I also witness painful moments, heart breaking scenes.
Poverty in Syria hit me from the first hours I discovered the country. Misery and loneliness ravages this country by the day. Young children, just four years old for some, are sleeving in the streets, old men alone still are staying on the same bench and certainly live without roof despite the cold and humidity.
I understood here that anyone can give.
We all have something to learn from others: whether it's from those poor but endearing children, those working man with me, or even families I've only met. All gave me a place, allowed me to thrive in this country I didn't know.
It was here on a mission, that I was pushed to surpass myself, not to be afraid, to try my luck, and to work, sometimes late, but so I could give the best to those I owe so much ..
Going on a mission, was a bet. Would I be able to? Am I ready for what I could see or hear? Quickly all these questions didn't make sense anymore because I found my place there, I was given it.
I've been confronted with situations that were beyond me, and that often I didn't even understand, yet I followed the Syrians who kept reaching out to me to walk the path, so not to be afraid of the unknown.
If I were to sum up what this mission taught me, I would say believe and surpass myself. I gave everything I had and real quick I realized it was little compared to everything I was given.
My mission ends and I can(t find the words to express my appreciation to all those who have been with me since my arrival. And yet I would conclude with the only one which comes to my mind: thank you.
Josephine, volunteer in Syria.