When I stepped into the first flat belonging to the refugees, I thought how bare it looked. They did not have any furniture in the living room. It did not feel like a real home; more like a community hall, except it was too small and dark. These are truly refugees, living a makeshift life, and barely making ends meet. If they were only living here for a month or two, it may be tolerable. But this is not the case - some of them have been living in this area for years, in this kind of condition. I wish it were more comfortable for them, especially for the children.
Those who greeted us were truly happy. One of them said, they would be happy to just meet and chat with us even without the gifts we were bringing them. That statement touched me because for a group of people who have left their homeland, and who have been harrassed so much as refugees in our country, they know the meaning of true hospitality - they are offering us the gem of what they have, even in their poverty - their friendship and trust. Friendship takes time to cultivate, and I felt Esther, in consistently reaching out to them, truly deserves it.
While chatting with them, I noticed a vacant look in some of them. Tears are just below the surface when they talk, especially among the women. I wonder how the children must feel in the midst of our discussion, learning, at such a young age, about the activities of Rela and what they can do. But children are children - they laugh and are satisfied easily with candies and ice cream, and some of them are shy. But their stomachs are bloated, and I really wonder about their future, and how much healing they would need in the long run, physically and emotionally. They seem to have few toys, and make do with whatever they have.
I would like to go back, and slowly get to know them.