Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Being human

Things come in and out of the news so fast that it is so easy for us to move on just as fast. The wars rage and rumble away in the back ground but our lives carry on: work, caring for our families, all the normal things of life. But sometimes the human thing to do is to stop and to listen again. To listen to the voices of the people that desperately need our help and wonder deeply what we can do about it.

I've recently been asked by Tearfund to be part of their blogging team. Long term readers of my blog will know that Tearfund has a very special place in my heart and I have written, fund raised and generally shouted about their work for some time now. Their work is on the ground, done by local people and makes a real difference. I know, I've seen it for myself.

In many countries the church is best placed to respond to situations of disaster and crisis. They are already in their communities and have the local knowledge needed to address the areas of most desperate need. Tearfund utilizes this potential and enables them to reach out to their communities, of all faiths and none, with the provisions and support they require.

A Refugee Camp for Syrian Refugees - Eleanor Bentall, Tearfund
Tearfund are masters of collecting stories and that is the one thing I believe we desperately need to hear. That on the other end of a conflict are real people with real lives that are suddenly, violently interrupted by events outside of their control. And yet in these disasters we see the extent of human bravery and resilience. Babies are born and homes are made wherever we can find them. This video really says it all:

In Syria the crisis is escalating. Four million people have been affected by the violence and there are now over one million refugees, a figure reached much sooner than anticipated by the UN. On her trip Katie also met five families who had fled to Jordan, all of whom were living in a three bedroom flat. In an interview with Katie one of the fathers, Aamil, shared his story of fleeing his home.

Aamil and his family. Photo -  Eleanor Bentall, Tearfund

"We were living in Deraa when something like 20,000 soldiers came into our neighbourhood. They started shooting and killed about 300 people. They also burned our houses. So we left our homes carrying nothing, no money, no food, no clothing, only the things that we are wearing, that’s all. They were pursuing us with tanks so I took my whole family and left that neighbourhood. We left immediately and went to Zaatari [a refugee camp] in Jordan”

Food and shelter, the most basic of needs, are in desperately short supply. Medical help is absent and intensely required.

We don’t have any food at all. Nobody has helped us and we suffer from cold during the night especially.”

Photo - Eleanor Bentall, Tearfund

Aamil hopes to return to Syria when the violence has ended but in the meantime the basics of life are desperately needed by him and many other families who have escaped the conflict.

It is easy to close our eyes, to go on with our day and put this kind of suffering to one side in our minds. But, as in all things, we have a choice and we CAN make a difference. Today can be an ordinary day or it can be a day where we let someone on the other side of the world know that we care for them. It can be a day where we cover our ears or where we take our petitions loudly to the ear of God. It can be a day where we allow humanity to be defined as violent and destructive or where we play our part in showing what being truly human really is.

Please pray. Please give. And please keep hearing these stories.


  1. Great to hear that we're now part of the same blogging team!
    Katie's fabulous - she was the person from TF who came with us to Uganda, just days after her Syria trip and her stories were incredible.

    1. Hey Liz,

      Indeed, glad to be on board! Heard a bit more about your trip when I met Katie on Saturday, sounds like a really successful time was had.

      The video from Syria is just amazing, isn't it? I was all (unashamedly!) teary in the computer room!