Finding Hope in Zaatari

2_2_Advent2014

Guest post written by Jamie Resler

“Why do you want to write about me?” she asked.

“Because you are an inspiration, and more people need to see that beauty,” I respond. Because when I think about hope, it’s her story, her strength and her spirit that are first on my mind.

She is Nadine. This is her story of hope.

“I am from Syria and I am 23 years old. I was in university in Syria, and studied for three years. It’s every girl’s dream to complete her studies, but I was not able to.”

Nadine and I have a conversation about hope sitting in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. War threatens to steal away beauty, not add to it. Most would say war has stolen a lot away from Nadine. Her dreams to finish her education are on hold. Memories of the day she had to leave her home and her family are emblazoned in her memory.

“I came to Zaatari with my husband 1 year and 8 months ago. My family is still in Syria. When we saw the tents here, I thought my life had stopped.”

War threatens to steal away beauty, not add to it. But as I talk to Nadine, beauty is all that I can see.

“I face a hard life here in Zaatari, but I am very fortunate. The challenges in our lives give us more opportunities to learn. I have always been strong but these challenges have taught me to be even stronger.”

These words. Spoken from the mouth of someone who has faced challenges that would make most of us to fall flat on our faces and give up. Not Nadine. She stands up stronger. Not content to just sit and wait, she doesn’t just liveshe thrives, radiating the hope that drives her forward.

“Hope helps me to look at the past and recognize that I have the strength to get through the hard times. Knowing that I have had the strength to get through what I have helps me look toward the future and know that I can move forward and face what comes. When you pass through challenges, you can face future challenges with a new perspective.”

Nadine thrives because of the hope she has found in helping others around her. She and her husband are mentors for Questscope, volunteering their time to empower Syrian youth to hope for more so that they can do more than just survive. She has found that it’s only when you give your life away for the sake of others that you find the strength to truly live.

“I am very proud to be able to work with these youth. Having this opportunity [to be mentors] was a big window of hope for us that brightened up our lives.”

After such loss, how is there this strength? In the shadows of destruction, how is there this hope? War holds no power in the presence of hope. Because on this day, it is against the backdrop of a refugee camp that hope burns even brighter.

It shatters any threat to steal away beauty.

Because in the face of conflict and war, the hope of a young Syrian woman—brave, determined, resilient—adds to the beauty.

Flooded with messages that say there is anything but hope when it comes to the Middle East, I see something much different. I have hope because of Nadine, in awe of how such love, joy and laughter flow so effortlessly despite the challenges she has faced. I have hope because of the Syrian people she represents, who choose to live with purpose and intention to add beauty to the world.

I ask Nadine: “How have these challenges changed you?”

“I am still the same person I have always been. These challenges have not changed me—they complete me.”

 

Nadine is 23 years old, from Syria. She lives with her husband in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where they are both mentors and case coordinators for Questscope. They are committed to restoring hope for Syrian youth so that together, they can rebuild a better future.

Jamie Resler writes these reflections of hope on behalf of Nadine. Jamie currently lives in Amman, Jordan and is part of the team at Questscope, an organization dedicated to transforming the future of vulnerable youth and communities by equipping them with the resources and hope they need to become compassionate and productive citizens.

 

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