June 23, 2010 by Claire · Comments Off
Last week a small group of PLC staff and interns visited Yousif in his village. As we wove through neighborhoods I noticed the muted and dull colors of the concrete walls, gates, roads and air. Amidst the tan, beige and dirt-colored village I kept seeing flashes of bright blues, oranges and reds — colors of the town’s vibrantly dressed residents behind gates and in shops. Their clothes fought my initial impression of his village. When we drove in, it almost looked like a ghost town, but once I started to see the villagers I saw the life and personality of the people shown through their clothing.
We arrived at Yousif’s home, and I was privileged to meet a woman whose personality quite literally burst through the front gate. Yousif’s mother had been summoned in from the field by her daughters because of our arrival. She flew in holding Yousif’s hand, wearing a work shirt and a pair of tattered juli kurdi pants — baggy pants traditionally reserved for men only. This woman oozed strength, confidence and know-how. She appeared as if she could build a house from the ground up, run a farm and raise her 10 children all at the same time. This was a woman I should learn from. There is a good chance I will never work as hard in a week as she does in a day.
Four of Yousif’s sisters brought us water, tea, grapes and cucumbers. Lessons in hospitality are not only something I could learn from this family but from all the Iraqi people. Despite the delicious drinks and snacks it was not long before we were itching to play with the kids. Little did Yousif know, there was a soccer ball in the car with his name on it. Yousif and his siblings had few toys and had to borrow a ball from kids down the street during PLC’s last visit. The ball was brought out and a game quickly ensued, but soon it came time to leave because Yousif’s mother had to get back to work.
As we were walking to the car Yousif’s brother ran out of the gate holding the soccer ball he thought we had forgotten. I was blown away. A child with very little access to his own soccer ball thought we had accidentally left behind this gift and instead of rejoicing and trying to keep it, he chased after us and attempted to give it back.
Time and time again I am humbled by the children and families we work with because of their dedication to hard work and hospitality. And through that dedication, I’ve seen that this family chose to focus on the vigor of life rather than on the fact that their family is dealing with a congenital heart defect.
|Claire is passionate about family advocacy projects and seeing support groups develop in Iraq for women whose children battle congenital heart disease. In her spare time you can find her laughing at her own jokes.|