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A Sanctuary of Hope

It was quiet inside the Rainbow Zone today. The first day of every semester is Listening Day. A day where we sit well back and let the children lead by sharing and telling their stories. Usually we hear how they left their homes and lives in Syria or were pushed out of Mosul.

But today was a different Listening Day. They did not share their personal stories but were occupied with expressing their fear of loss and abandonment. It was quiet inside the Rainbow Zone today.

Our Kids in War were beyond sad today. One of their teachers left in a standard inter-school rotation. One of our Kids fainted by way of response. None of our Kids in War can say " goodbye", this being one of the reasons why we always build mentorship programs for our graduate kids.. somedays it feels like they will be hanging around until they marry...and then of course their children will come!But it was quiet inside the Rainbow Zone today. Skies remained grey for a long while until the children had talked their pain out. Between themselves, for themselves, by themselves.

So what does " goodbye " mean to our Kids in War? Its a simple yet painful answer. It means goodbye to love, to hugs and to emotional care. Their parental love is not tangible. It does not translate into a hug, an embrace a kiss and words of encouragement. Life is hard. Parental love just is. It is a fact, now get on with life.

So when a beloved teacher leaves. It's a shock. It's cutting off the source of seeable, hearable, feelable love. Kids faint. They tell me that often happens. Others cry. They feel abandoned, bereft. Farewell to Love. And something dies inside them. Time after time.

Listening Days are vital. Listening to the spoken word. The unspoken word. Listening to the way the children sit, look, listening to the expression on their face, listening to the very way their arms act as the doorkeeper to their heart. It had to be quiet today inside the Rainbow Zone. So very quiet that the depths of their hearts along with their pain and fears could be heard. We knew that the blue skies would come..but at their pace. Only at their pace and in their safe space.

And indeed after a few tears with hugs to help dry the eyes, the sun did shine again in their hearts and smiles lit their tear -stained faces.

A few days ago a friend used a phrase when describing our life here in Northern Iraq, " He termed it a Sanctuary of Hope" Today in the quiet, we indeed sensed that we were inside that Sanctuary of Hope. We also sensed that the Kids in War, new as we might be to them, they too knew that. And that brought peace to their troubled hearts.

Tomorrow will be a new day. In many ways. Made possible by this Listening Day. Beyond the Rainbow. In the Sanctuary of Hope.

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