Paddington Supports Syrian Refugees.
Read our supporters report here.
Paddington church photostories
Video coming soon.
Here is ‘a day in the life of’ our minister in this group:
Driving for about 2 hours in the desert, we came to Azarq. When we arrived we sat in the 2 mini vans we hired looking out on the Azraq Refugee camp and make shift school with a sense of dis-belief. After a tour of the school, and then driving from shelter to shelter delivering food boxes to the Syrian and Iraqi refugees the emotions became overwhelming. The refugees where living in conditions that are barley habitable in the middle of the desert. We felt we couldn’t take photos, mainly, because it was too confronting to us. But also because, as confronting as it was, we wanted to stand in solidarity, not as some privileged people patting ourselves on the back for helping poor people, on a venture that was more about us then our human sisters and brothers in great need and distress.
And yet there was something grounding and sacred here, not for the refugees, but for us. We could not help but think of our own families and loved ones, and what it would be like to flee everything you know. To have our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and children, shot, bombed, killed, medically dependent and injured. To hear the stories of having to flee everything you have known, to find yourself living without work, or health care, right on the edge of existence. Living, whole families in tents, or rooms smaller than my bathroom.
All of this as fighter jets are taking off and flying overhead, all of this was too much to take in. I was angry at the war making machines, and the trail of devastation they leave in their wake. But today was not about that, it was about sharing of myself (all be it a humble and small contribution), for the benefit of others, for the benefit of ‘us all’.
And our small collective offerings of paying for teachers, aids, supplies and food, was met with great hospitality, warmth and heartfelt thankfulness.
The school we supported put on a lunch fit for kings and queens, the local police area commander was present, to assure us of our safety. Every visit to families in shelters, we were welcomed with the offer of tea and company and conversation.
The head of the refugee school (which was barley as school by our standards of resourcing) and I spoke via a translator, she was moved by our compassion, that was not about branding our church or organization for some self-promotion end, but that we just cared enough to travel all the way from Australia to provide real help and assistance. We both where moved by each other.
Thank you, to the 9 others that went, all who joined us in prayer and spirit and all those who contributed financially. We have some photos here but many we could not bear to take. A big thanks to Maher, our Syrian volunteer guide and translator, he lost family members to ISIS as they fled Palmyra. And the logistical support provided by Catherine Ashcroft and Helping Refugees Jordan, who work with over 170 local charities and churches making a real difference on the ground. This network ensures that every dollar raised went to on the ground help.
Even more than that, I want to thank the tireless people we met, who every day pour out their lives in the care of others, who also have left comfortable lives, to live in solidarity and support of refugees, for teachers, and accountants, and social workers, and business managers and pastors and volunteers from all walks of life we met in Jordan. Many who will give of themselves without seeking any recognition or reward. And for the refugees who refuse to become defined by the horrors they have encountered and who reach out to others, building community and networks of care and support.
And most importantly for those overwhelmed, crushed and grief stricken refugees, let us continue to support, pray and stand with the widows and victims of war, with solidarity we see in the example and way of Jesus.