I’m off again–this time to the U.K. to be reunited with one of my closest friends and a member of my Kenya cohort, Dylan. I spent a summer in western Kenya two years ago and have remained close with a few friends, Dylan being one of them. We first bonded on a doctor’s visit because we both had contracted malaria at the same time, and it’s only been uphill from there. Now, I get to see this tall, intelligent, Canadian man in person for the first time in two years! I predict that with our penchant for photography and under-planning that I’ll return with great photos and even better stories.
Until then, I’ll keep posting Lebanon photos on this thing–have you planned a Beirut trip yet? Yalla, get on that.
It has been a frenzied week at work, as the number of Syrians flooding into Northern Iraq has climbed to nearly 40,000 since the border opened last Thursday. I found out the news at the beginning of the day on Sunday, and that night at 1 am I was on a flight to Erbil. I arrived just after 3 am, and about three hours later a UN driver picked me up to head to the border. I arrived at the Sahela border crossing as the day was beginning to heat up, to take photos and interview a handful of the thousands of Syrian Kurds waiting to cross into Iraq. It looked like something post-apocolyptic, but with people: the ground made up of flattened trash and belongings, sand from the expansive surrounding desert-like terrain being blown everywhere.
I didn’t want to write a depressing post. How much do you have to hear before throwing your hands up in disgust and despair and simply reconciling yourself to the fact that the world is broken? What’s your saturation point? For me, it doesn’t take much. I hate the terms that are being used to describe this largely unprecedented event–a “wave” of refugees, a faceless tide of fear and sorrow and a stark reminder of the mess that is Syria. As if nearly constant news of wanton killing wasn’t enough. I don’t know if that’s what I want to talk about. I want to talk about Khunaf, who married her husband three days before crossing the border and laughed when she told me all they’ve done is hold hands. I want to talk about watching our staff in action until deep into the night, red-eyed from lack of sleep but determined to transport every single person to safety. I want to talk about literally the cutest baby I have ever seen waving at me from a bus window, and my heart wanting to explode. I want to talk about life going on.
I’ll leave you with a photo of the aforementioned chubby baby–he’s on his way from the border to safety, where the night won’t be filled with the sounds of bullets and the walls of his family’s tent will be more secure than the concrete panels of his house in Syria. “The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough.”