Laurette Bennhold-Samaan writes: “Tables Turn under the Olive Tree”


Tables Turn Under the Olive Tree

PLEASE EXCUSE English errors and typos as due to time and priorities,
I have little editing time 🙂

Much of today was playing with kids under the olive tree. We brought some books from the warehouse and kids were looking through them. One girl hung on to one at which point a boy grabbed it from her. This sparked them hitting each other and then she burst into tears. It’s so very hard as unless you have the exact same thing for every child there is a fight. Sometimes I find that I lose my temper a bit but mostly it just ruffles my mood when I have to break up a fight or tell the kids repeatedly to stop in as many languages as I can. I once actually stood in between 2 boys who were fighting and closed my eyes as I thought I might get punched in the stomach. I didn’t and they stopped.

We have thought long and hard as to how we could distribute some books without a massive scene. When each child leaves the play area? Former volunteers have said this hasn’t worked either. We do have a “library” with cards so they are learning that concept and can borrow books.

As I was discussing what options we had with two of our community volunteers (refugees who have been here a long time with excellent command of English and good cross-cultural skills) they were saying how difficult it is for multiple reasons. The conversation somehow turned to them and I asked how they were doing today. I am careful not to ask how are you doing (in general) as I’m sure that’s so hard to answer- their life is on hold, most are separated from their family and friends etc.. In our conversation one Syrian man said, “I have lost everything but I have not lost hope.” I almost burst into tears. I wondered, if I were in his situation, would I have lost hope? At that moment, I gathered my thoughts to the present moment and I looked down to the street. Once again I saw the large blue police van which gave me a pit in my stomach. The last time I saw so many police, they were arresting someone who had lost their second appeal and was being deported. I held my breath. Was it going to happen again right before my very eyes? Would I know him or her? Why should that even matter? This time it was a family and they all were being taken away. They were arrested and were taken to the local prison (time varies) and then will be sent back to Turkey or their original country. God forbid it’s the latter as then most likely they would be killed. The ones who are granted asylum get to go to Athens, Greece and then on to an EU country. I looked over at the woman community volunteer and she had her face in her hands and then tears streamed down my face. While I didn’t know them (as if that should matter) she obviously did. All of a sudden, I felt a warm hand on my back comforting ME. It was our community volunteer (a refugee). I was so touched, as all, HE had been through and there he sat comforting ME. No words were needed from either side — only a touch.



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