By Obadah Ghannam
Asalaam alaykum dear friends. I want to tell you something. As you know, I am currently in Jordan.
Yesterday, I visited a 30 year old Syrian woman in Amman. She was the last refugee I visited on an evening round of aid distribution, something I have been doing lately to deliver the money you entrusted me with to Syrian refugees in Jordan. I have seen many people like her; people with untold stories that continue to haunt their tragic lives. Absent gazes into the distance characterise their unstoppable mental anguish: continuous loops of images replaying in their battered minds; rape, torture, murder, screaming, blood, broken bones. I could go on. It forces you sometimes to almost fall to your knees. Nothing that you do can bring back the people they have lost.
This woman had five young children. Three days ago, literally, her husband was killed in Syria. May God have mercy on his soul and accept him amongst whose ranks are greatly elevated in the hereafter. Before entering the house, we followed a narrow winding path between the derelict houses in this deprived Ammani district. Knowing the other, more affluent areas in this beautiful city, it was hard to absorb the contrast. Upon reaching the destination, our guide, whose assiduous efforts continue to help many, brought us to a sudden stop. We were outside a small, white, metal door. It was dark. People across the city were asleep. After a knock, she entered. It is good etiquette for the men to wait many meters away from the door before being told to come in. It allows the family inside to get ready for us to enter the house. As I stayed outside with my colleagues, the familiar silence encompassed every corner. We finally entered.
As we walked in, we immediately faced a flight of rough, narrow concrete stairs with no side-walls. This led to the main house. Upon entering, we found ourselves in a narrow corridor with 3 doors leading to a kitchen, bathroom and a pseudo-bedroom. There was hardly any furniture; only a plane of mattresses on the floor, on which 4 children were sleeping. The fifth child stood next to his mother. As we proceeded, the beautiful sound of Quran echoed in the background. And then we saw the mother. Her face was expressionless, almost as if the life she once enjoyed had been painfully sucked out and permanently removed. Our guide began the interaction with a few questions. As she explained her situation, feelings of extreme sorrow overtook our heart. If only there was something more we could do. If only I could bring back the life she once had. She had lost her husband, and now finds herself in a foreign land, with five children and nobody to look after her except for ourselves. Her food, her clothes, her shelter, her life for the next week: it all depended on what we were about to give her. Work for her is impossible in this foreign land. She has five children to single-handedly look after, feed and clothe.
Then, I faced one of the most difficult decisions I had to make – how much do we give? Whatever we gave would not be enough. She was seriously desperate, despite her silence. I spoke with my team and we decided to give her 100 JD (around £93.70). That evening, we only had 650 JD to distribute, and around 10 families to support. As our guide handed the money over, a brief gratuitous smile overcame her face. And then we left.
Friends: dire stories like this are extremely common amongst Syrian refugees. Some are more tragic and desperate, others less so. One feels like it is an ocean that they are trying to empty with a small teaspoon. But trust me when I say this, as soon as you make an effort to lift that small burden, you realise the massive difference you are making. About 2 months ago, I sent a series of emails encouraging donations for Syrian people. I don’t know how much you donated, but whatever you gave has now been distributed. In total, with those emails, I raised £2,925. £1,800 was taken directly into Syria by Hand in Hand and distributed inside the country whilst £1,125 was taken to Jordan by myself, and by God’s will and mercy, has all been distributed. I promise you, it all made a small, yet paradoxically massive difference to some of the world’s most desperate people. Thank you for your kind support. Your reward is now with Allah.
I’m pleased to let you know that the £1,125 I took to Jordan helped around 21 families. Allah Almighty says: ‘So race each other to the good’. I know many amazing people who are sprinting towards that which is good. With your money, you did exactly that. Our prophet, peace be upon him, taught us not turn away a poor man, even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near to you, God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.
You will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have as an individual, whatever you end up doing to help the needy, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own. I have seen the beautiful ways hope can transform lives. So, dear friends, at least pray for these people regularly, hoping for an end to their misery soon.
If you want me to have your money distributed to help the injured and needy inside Syria, then you can send me money directly to the details I have written below. Alternatively, you can donate to Hand in Hand via Justgiving, here (http://handinhandforsyria.org.uk/supportus).
· Sort code: 40-26-22
· Account number: 61127748
· Reference: Support
I pray God guides us all to that which is most pleasing to Him.