ZA'ATARI WISDOM - DEEPA PATEL - A REFLECTION
Helen and Deepa are longtime collaborators and have worked closely together in Za’atari. Deepa’s creativity lies in a core understanding of our inner worlds and she has a gift for intuiting what is needed to bring people together, facilitating uplifting and positive outcomes.
On my first visit to Za’atari it became clear to me that the wisdom that lies in the minds, hearts and hands of both the Syrian refugees, and those that work with and for them, is what our world needs.
Wherever one goes, and whoever one meets, what stands out is the raw aliveness and enterprising spirit that enables all 80,000 people and all the NGO workers to meet the everyday challenges that they all face in a refugee camp.
There is no room for pity, instead you have to have faith that everything is possible. You have to work as a team.
We need this ethos and ways of working now more than ever, if we are to envisage a new world for ourselves and the planet. This is going to require finding a new balance, where we are led by how to be in the world, so we can work out what to do.
And what is still alive in me and shaping my life are the following pieces of wisdom:
Be in touch with the strength that exists in vulnerability.
At Za’atari nearly everyone has put their lives at risk by leaving their homes, their lives and their loved ones. They have been vulnerable to the weather, weapons and not having any sense of security, but a great deal of courage and willingness to sacrifice one’s life.
NOW is all that exists
The daily 35 litres per person of water that is given to each household can be gone in a flash, if you do not have an awareness of how to make every drop -- and every action -- count. You cannot let your doubts and need for recognition dominate the discourse.
Listening carries the possibility of healing
In Za’atari all the senses are fully engaged and alive, including the sixth sense, and so the capacity to listen has to do with bringing all of ourselves to the moment. We have to be able to connect to the painful longing for home, whatever home means to you. We have to be present to the story of each person.
The less we have the more we give. Syrian culture is an exemplar of hospitality; the door is open to the stranger to come and share coffee and a meal. Joy and love are given with such generosity that all one can do is want to give it back tenfold.
Life is sacred
Despite the level of loss that people live with, in the camp there seems to be a resilience that allows life to carry on through weddings, births and the flowering of friendship. People are not frightened to love and to love fully. That is what reminds us how precious life is.
Magic can happen
The children born in the camp, for whom hardship is so normal and who are defined by the longing of their parents and grandparents to return to former lives are the magicians of our time. Anything we can do to help them remember how extraordinary they are will benefit the whole world.
If Za’atari was a song...
well actually it is two songs
they would be: