First Encounters

Yesterday I become acquainted with the work I would be accomplishing for the refugees by visiting the University Hospital in Gaziantep.

Thankfully Nesrin was a great translator as my inability to speak Arabic is a huge setback in communicating and hearing the stories of each refugee.

Walking into each patient room, uncertain as to what I would see or hear was alluring and worrisome. I was excited to begin my journey of giving aid and yet my biggest concern was not to offend anyone by my curiosity and eagerness to help. I am in fact a complete stranger and to add, can not speak to anyone directly. But words weren’t necessary when I met Mohammad, a 3 year old handsome little boy who had survived a bomb. He was playing in a park with his 11 month year old brother and 6 cousins who sadly did not survive. To date, he has had 5 surgeries to his legs and to make matters worse hasn’t spoken since the awful incident. The moment I laid my eyes on him, my heart could sense his pain and suffering.

“Can I sit on the bed with him?” (As I pointed to the corner, bottom half of the bed) and after Nesrin translated, the father approved.

Not a single word was spoken. I leaned down onto my elbows and tried to emit as much love I had within to Mohammad. He did not look up at me or anyone at all. His heart was racing and I could see the rapid beats on his fragile chest. My heart yearned to embrace him though I knew it wasn’t my place. He sat looking down, holding and stacking puzzle pieces instead of actually attempting to create the puzzle. I slowly began to take a piece one at a time and create the border to his puzzle. After a few long minutes, he looked at me for the first time. I continued making the puzzle until the nurse came in and spoke in Turkish (seemingly frustrated) telling the parents that I was too close to him (in concern of bacterial infections post surgery). I stood up immediately to show the most amount of respect both to the nurse and the parents. Fortunately the parents didn’t seem to mind my interaction with their boy.

It was then that I noticed Mohammad looking at me and my heart leaped. I wanted to sit back down with him but was told it was time to leave. Mohammad looked up at me again and we stared at one another for what felt like an eternity. He is now my pillar of strength on this journey.

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