People

FACES OF THE MIDDLE EAST

Stories are what make us connect to people, they are past, our present, and our future. When you hear someone’s story, you discover who they are, where they came from, and where they are going.

Fatima is from Aleppo, Syria and is 20 years old. She currently has two children and is pregnant with her third. The first time we met her and her family they were sleeping on the sidewalk of a busy street in Bodrum, Turkey. We sat down and played with her children and got to know her and her family with the few words of Arabic we knew. We offered them food and toys but they did not want anything except a stroller to help them carry their baby and bags of clothing and supplies.

We managed to get a stroller for them and they were so thankful! Later on we brought their family, along with two other families, to lunch at a restaurant nearby and had a great time. She was so kind and sweet to us and loved our family so much. She even said she would name her baby after my mom!

Khadija is from the Ghouta region of Syria and is 10 years old. We met her in the mosque in Bitez near Bodrum, Turkey. When we met her, she had only been out of Syria for 50 days, while her father had been in a camp in Turkey for nearly 3 years. She was such a sweet and kind little girl, and absolutely loved playing with her toy doll. Her family’s goal was to reach Belgium or Germany and cross to Rhodes or Kos. I miss Khadija so much and loved her adorable smile!

We first met Mustafa on Kitchener’s Island in Aswan, Egypt. He was only ten years old but had to work by selling peanuts to tourists. When we first saw him, he was trying to sell the peanuts, but people were competely ignoring him, trying to get him to go away. We felt so bad for this poor little kid, having to work at such a young age when he should be in school, playing with his friends, and having fun.

He was such a sweet and kind boy, and loved talking to us! We found out later, a friends of ours met Mustafa and his father on the island the next day, and gave Mustafa’s father enough money to put Mustafa back in school.

Sulta is a seven-year-old Kurdish girl from Aleppo, Syria. She loves drawing, playing with Barbies and swimming in the sea. She was so excited when we took her shopping and let her buy anything she wanted. Her final choice was this beautiful white dress, she wanted to look like a princess!

One day we went swimming in the sea with her and had so much fun! Even though she was just learning how to swim, she had no fear and was out in the water splashing and playing. She was such an adorable little girl! To read more about our great memories with Sulta and her family, click here!

Ima, 11, sold bookmarks with hieroglyphics on them in front of the Sphinx in Giza. She was a spunky, feisty, and very persistent little girl. She has the most beautiful blue eyes and we thought she could be a child model, but unfortunately she lives by working all day under the burning sun.  This picture was taken during our first visit to Egypt, but we also ran into her six months later.

She remembered us as soon as she saw us and we talked for a while. She told us that there are barely any tourists coming, but things are slowly getting better. She has such a great and fun personality and so much potential, it is so sad that she has to work so hard instead of going to school.

This is Dima (in the burgundy scarf), that we met in Petra, Jordan. She is a local Bedouin girl who is  feisty and eager to bargain and sell you her postcards, yet also in the mood for a chat, a loving picture, and a hug. On the first day we met her, she did our Bedouin style head-wraps and wanted to know all about where we were from. By the second day, we kept running into her and she asked us to bring her some lip gloss, nail polish, and any cosmetic she could think of. We realized she just wanted to be a little girl and dress up just like all other young girls around the world. We loved her fun personality and spunkiness, a girl who definitely knows what she wants and is not afraid to say so.

Fatima, the beautiful girl in the blue coat, was much more quiet and sweet than the spunky Dima, and just seemed to go along with the flow. You could see she was excited to chat with some foreign teenage girls!