I’m sure wherever you’re reading this from, no matter what background you come from, that you’ve heard something about what’s going on in Syria. At the very least you’ve heard something about refugees. You may not know the details of how the country ended up where it is now, you may not realize how much has been lost, and you may not even know how you can help.
From what I’ve seen in the media in the US, there is a refugee crisis, there’s no question that millions of civilians, families, mothers, and children have been uprooted and forced to flee, to find somewhere they can call home, someplace they can feel safe. For many across the world it’s been hard to accept these people out of fear of terrorism and a lack of understanding of Islam and people from the middle east.
And though I’ve never been much into politics and I don’t want this blog to be about politics, I feel for these people and the countless others that have been affected. I hope that by featuring Syrian food here, I can bring some sense of humanity or relatability to the culture that’s now strewn across the globe. If I can share just some of the delicious foods and beautiful parts of Syrian/Middle-Eastern culture, I hope I can make at least some small difference.
Out of sight, out of mind
I was a sophomore in college studying graphic design, when I met a petite girl with wild brown curls and an incredibly polite yet endearing demeanor.
At nearly twenty years old, even though I grew up near New Orleans, a melting pot of sorts, the majority of the kids I went to school with were Republican, conservative, caucasian, and/or some kind of Christian.
I had traveled a good bit, to Asia, Europe, and South America, but at a certain point I formed a bubble around myself. When you don’t watch the news because you can’t stand it, anything happening in other parts of the world has little meaning, because I’m safe, and I’ve got my own things to worry about, and sometimes not knowing is more comforting than knowing. It’s something I’m working on.
Today, that girl I met (still with wild curls that she’s slowing embracing) is one of my best friends. Before I met her, Syria or the conflict there had never crossed my path. She would often find inspiration in Arabic text and middle-eastern patterns or use her pieces to bring attention to the crisis. Out of pure curiosity, I’d ask her about why she fasted during Ramadan, or why she didn’t wear a hijab while others did, if she’d ever be able to go back to Syria, or if she still had family there. When you hear about some of what’s happened, things that affect someone standing right in front of you, it’s hard to find the right thing to say.
I feel helpless at times and I’m sure she does too.
I find that I’m often fascinated by people different than me. I want to understand why they do the things they do and why they think the way they think. Should I think like that? Or should they think like me?
With the political climate in the US and around the world at the moment, I was hesitant to do this in May. I also wanted to make sure I’m not being insensitive, which is why it’s taken me so long to write this.
All I’d like for you to take away is this one thought:
We’re all human. We all have the same basic needs and wants. And we all need to be in this together.
If you’d like to help out in some way, you can check out 15 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees NOW, or if you’d like to support my best friend in her efforts, you can donate to her Generosity campaign here.
That girl with the curls went on a volunteer trip to Greece to teach art to child refugees and is now helping Syrian refugees through design. Proceeds go to the Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM), a charitable non-profit organization.