I wasn’t sure what to expect during our day at the Azraq refugee camp, 80Km from the Syria border. I have so much I want to say, so much to process and share. I wanted to get this out though as we have just half an hour before dinner.
The white shelters are iconic now. They are the picture you see when the media talks about the camp. There are hundreds of them and from high up on the hill you can’t get them all in one picture. But what is life like on the ground?
I thought it might be lawless, dangerous maybe? It couldn’t have been further from that. The sun shone down on us as we arrived and after clearing security (which IS tight. It has to be, there is one entrance, and one, different, exit) we arrived at “Base Camp” . A chance to meet the Worldvision team who are based here, their caravan nestled in a square up against UNICEF’s. UNHCR’s and Save the Children’s. And many other foreign NGO’s I hadn’t heard of.
That done it was off to meet see the WorldVision football pitches, though more on that in a later post.
Mr Ayman, our first host, explained to us that if you have more than seven people in your family you get two shelters. Less than that you get one. It is up to you how you arrange them. Sheets hang on washing lines to give security outside the two front doors, beyond that children play in the streets. At the end of each row are the two toilets for that street. Between the two shelters is the family’s washing area. All water carried from stand pipes by the children daily.
Mr Ayman told us that the room we were in was for “best” the other one is their main living quarters and after we had chatted and shared tea he took us inside. Proudly showing us a stuffed toy his daughter had one at school for being so bright. Behind a curtain stood their cooking area, no more than 3 ft wide and 8ft long it was very well organised with boiled eggs in a pan at the end of the bench and a row of spices to flavour their dinners. Stuffed vine leaves are the children’s favourite dinner, prepared by mum Hannah.
She was a remarkable woman and we wanted to chat to her for hours, along with these three gorgeous children. Just look at them! Football again our common language.
So much to share about this family and their life here but I thought you might be interested to hear about the houses, and the kitchens.
Now for us, it is our last night and we are going to see a little of the city. Where I shall leave a bit of my heart when we get on that plane at 8am tomorrow. It’s been one hell of a week. One I have loved. And would urge you to come to if you ever get the chance.