A visit to Mars.
In East Amman, there is a neighborhood called Mareekh… also sometimes called “Mars.” It was there, just over the wall, that we met with Abdullah and his family. While his wife seemed energetic and joyful in an attempt to support her husband, it was easy to see the weight that Abdullah carried. There is really no way to shield their two young sons from the harsh realities of life as a Syrian refugee — but they’re trying.
Abdullah is one of fourteen children born to the family’s matriarch and they are from Aleppo. As a result of the Syrian war, his siblings and their children have been scattered all over the world. Egypt. France. Syria. Jordan. Very recently, his sister and her children were removed from their home, IDs taken, and forced into a tiny holding cell with many other families. One of her children was taken from school in front of her friends and sent to this cell. While their apartment still has furniture, clothes in the drawers, books on the shelf and pictures on the walls… they have been taken back to a refugee camp, abandoned to a prison within a prison. No electricity, no running water, and no heat during this freezing winter are just the beginning. Anyone would crumble under the weight of not being able to help their own flesh and blood. It’s too much for the family to bear.
But these people are refugees, not criminals. Abdullah is left to despairingly wonder where the human rights are within this incongruent situation. His family has for too long been governed by the politics of fear. As I watched his lip begin to quiver, we could sense there was a dam about to break. He told us that all his deepest fears are coming true. They’ve become like caged animals. But it was these two words that broke over our ears like painful waves: Forcible Return.
I watch him watching his wife watching their sons. The infant boy sits playing with a balloon on the ground and the older son (perhaps eight years old) pensively observing words and tears that had to haveimparted such unspeakable fear within his soul. In the midst of this darkness, we were served with trademark Syrian hospitality and chamomile tea. We sipped as we learned many Syrians, now up to 5,000 people, are being forced to return to Syria. It’s not that they don’t miss home —they do, very deeply —however, if Abdullah returns he will be forced to go back and fight and face almost certain death.
As Abdullah wept gutturally, he asked, “Where is the mercy in this?!” The stress this has put on his family has even created a heart problem for which he cannot get the medical help he so desperately needs. Plus, the reports from extended family back in the refugee camps are bleak. They would rather go back to Syria and face the fate that awaits, and some even consider suicide to be a better option. Abdullah hasn’t given up due to the relationships and community support he has received from 3rd Person Inc. He has applied for immigration to many nations, and says even having nothing (other than his family) in another country is better than going back to fight in Syria.
He is not a terrorist, he is a husband, a father… a human. He’s a human who feels destroyed, yet nothing can force someone to lose their dignity. As we all sat together and cried, he was reminded that his family is not alone.
The only word that comes to my mind is “impermanency. We all go through phases in our lives that seem like they will never end. We exaggerate and idolize those periods as if we are heroes in the cosmos for our perseverance. My intent is not to belittle any suffering, but perhaps to reframe the suffering in our world through the lens of reality.
Mars is broken.
Our world is so broken.
Fear of our neighbors, brothers and sisters is the root of our brokenness. May we find the space to heal, seek peace, and pursue it.
To find out how you can support and encourage families like Abdullah’s - please go to www.3rdpersoninc.orgtoday.