Syria, the country that is falling apart. We’ve all heard the terrible stories and seen the horrifying suffering. But until I met Hodday, I have not really experienced the positivity and power of the Syrians themselves. I met Hodday during Merit360 in New York where his story impressed me, where the horrible things he experienced horrified me but mostly where his positive vibe enlightened me. Coming back home, I immediately felt like I wanted to get involved. Only a week later I got to meet Abir, the co-founder of Mobaderoon and a group called "Active Voices". What they do comes down to the following;
In light of the ongoing conflict in Syria and the high number of Syrians leaving the country because of it, it is necessary to establish a network that aims to support and build trust and understanding between the Syrian diaspora, host communities, and Syrians in Syria.
I met Abir on the day prior to the workshop. She currently has a house in Lebanon, but lived in Damascus until 2013. She told me she keeps the key to her home in Damascus in her wallet, and it will come out whenever she is able to go home. Until then, Lebanon is not much more than a place to stay. Remarkably enough, she doesn't even own a set of keys to the place where she lives, because she doesn't want to get used to calling it home. Home is in Syria, and however challenging the situation will become, she will fight for her right to go home, someday.
The "Active Voices" workshop the following day was filled with Syrian people living in various areas in Holland. I spoke to a teacher from Assen, a doctor from Groningen and a mechanical engineer from Rotterdam. We started with introductions in three languages, I was actually surprised about how good their knowledge of the dutch language was.
They talked about themselves, where they came from, where they currently live, and about their future. They talked about misconceptions, getting used to Holland and about what change they can bring, together.
At one point, they were asked to do an exercise. The group held a rope and was instructed to form a square having their eyes closed and not being allowed to speak. They were able to comment afterwards, this is the one that made an impact on me;
"While we felt restrained by a higher power, the most important thing is that we did not fall apart"