Huge thanks to all who continue to check up on us, and to those who have helped us by giving to the Emergency and Disaster Fund that we have set up. That fund remains open should you at any point be able to help us in this much needed area.
When our kids talk about their mood they refer to it as their “weather". This week their weather was bad, stormy, silent and thundery. The earthquakes had literally shaken them all.
By living close to them we sensed the appropriate response which was two fold, firstly and most urgent was to take our kids to snow picnics, the other was to empower them thus destructuring the fear that had taken hold of them, by giving them tools for disaster response and working through their trauma in group sessions. The two went hand in hand and by the end of the week their weather had changed.
We took two different groups, the first being Salam’s art sculpture students, a mixed group of 12 rescued teens and IDPs, all living in Shariya Camp. The second group comprised 80 rescued students and our music group. Both times we traveled to an area about two hours away, an area high in the mountains close to the Turkish border, one where we would normally think twice if not thrice about taking our ISIS survivors due to the danger of Turkish bombing. Sad to say but our reality was that the Turks are busy, we had snow, we could go. We set up our snow camp on the slopes of Gara Mountain in the shadow of one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces (now home to the Peshmerga) strategically located on a pinnacle overlooking both Turkey and Iran. How very brilliant and strategic evil regimes are.
On the slopes of that place where his evil is still lurking, Salam and his art students created a magnificent white horse, a true work of art over which they had strategized as a team, a horse which they positioned facing Turkey, sending a message of peace in times of great distress.
“The White Horse came to me most nights when I was in captivity. I want to send a message to those suffering and those still under the rubble. Don’t give up, The White Horse will come to your rescue too."
The following day our musicians and survivors made their picnic in the same area.
“Those who have deeply suffered in some particular way are welded together in an understanding incomprehensible to those who have not so suffered.” Gentian Hill, Elizabeth Goudge
“On the day of the snow picnic I came to the centre without motivation. My mind and body were both tired. I had not slept since the earthquake and I just felt down. When I saw my friends I picked up a bit but when we got to the snow I came back to life again. My body shook off the fear and the lack of motivation and rebalanced itself. That picnic saved me from crashing." - Yusra
“Since the earthquakes I have been in a bad mood, fighting with everyone and with only negative thinking. We played around making snowballs and as I threw snowballs I threw my negativity away. It was perfect to throw all that irrational behavior away that I had been carrying. I became rational again, my emotions stabilized, my body became energized and my behavior became more flexible. I am so grateful for the timing of our snow picnic. Thank you for being sensitive to our needs.” - Manal
“My weather changed when I went to the snow picnic. I was so down and depressed due to the earthquake and just could not shift out of my bad weather. I was asked to help with photography which is something I love, as I took photos my perspective changed and I felt my body relax. I began smiling and ended up singing and dancing with the musicians. My weather totally changed. Many of us fell asleep on the way home, we were tired but we had not slept since the earthquakes and here we were happy and relaxed. Thank you for knowing how to change our weather.” - Hina
“This was a special day; it was totally different from other trips. I went on both snow picnics. What helped me was the snow. It was so clean and pure, so bright and shiny that I began to feel like the snow as all of the fear and anxiety since the quakes just fell from me, like snow melting in the sun. On the first trip we made the magnificent horse which I wish those suffering in Turkey could see. The second trip was fun, dancing, playing in the snow. I needed both those trips.” - Kristina
“It was a sweet and beautiful trip. I had been very anxious since the earthquakes, not for myself but for the horses, especially our pregnant mares. So, although all seemed to be quiet, I was barely sleeping in case it happened again. This snow picnic brought peace to my soul. My soul feels comfortable again.” - Daoud
“The snow picnic changed our weather. All my friends were saying how their psychology was down and bad since the quakes. Just getting out of the camp and the village, being together, making the fire, cooking chai and eating together changed our weather. We all returned laughing, and relaxed in our minds and bodies. We were also grateful to Noori and Salah for giving us practical information. They both came over to the stables where we walked through an emergency response. Miss Lisa gave us Rescue Remedy for the horses in case of future need. So, the week ended well and we all felt comfortable again. Thank you.” - Barzan
“We needed the snow picnic. We don't have parents and many of us have no close family so we have to work everything out for ourselves. I am grateful to Springs of Hope for being so close to us, for knowing what we are going through and understanding what we need even when we don't know. The picnic brought us back to ourselves. Thank you.” - Alo
Without your help the aftershocks would continue to disable and debilitate the lives of our students. We are very grateful to each one of you, for your belief in our work, for your presence in our lives. You enable us to be here planted within our community, being the response, being the solution, being the good news, being the hope, being the alternative structure, being the challenge to the norm.
I am at times asked to define goals for the month. It is no more and no less than to be sensitive, to be discerning, to be brave . My prayer is to know what to do and when. This was the week where we had to change the weather. And change it did.