I love to watch the sun rise from my rooftop, to watch my neighbors faithfully tend to the one sheep or goat, to look at the village as it wakes up, or not... summer, no school, everyone stays asleep locked away from the heat. This morning brought clouds. I was hopeful, maybe they indicated the much longed for drop in temperature but no, the thermometer was already settling on 40c with the promise of another 5 degrees to come. Still those clouds were there. That means something.
Our student family talks about the weather a lot, "we need to change our weather, the weather in the camp is bad." They actually mean "mood" or "atmosphere" and as I paid attention to my clouds this morning, we pay attention when we hear them talk about "their weather." These are times when schedules have to be put aside as we hear their voice which reflects their very real needs. This week just prior to the seventh memorial of the Yezidi genocide, with still at least 3000 women missing, children born in captivity now scattered, and the fate of many men still undetermined, is a rough week to say the least. We have teens with more energy than a Duracell battery, who bounce through our gates at 08.00 and are still pounding their footballs at 20.00, and we have an endless stream of broken women, young ones in particular, who come stating clearly their plan to kill themselves prior to August the 3rd. The atmosphere is emotionally super charged. The weather is hot, we are on constant alert. We have stationed "watchers" and "catchers" around our campus. Yesterday we opened (and emptied) our storeroom to give 30 new fridges to widows who had survived captivity. Amongst the signing of paperwork, you would hear my quiet instructions "orange scarf is going down, catch her, pink scarf going down, catch her, green scarf on the ground, bring water." Our nurse Jazea has to be present even at distributions for this very reason, the psychotic fainting episodes which are part of our weather. Noori, our psychologist is working around the clock, basically on a suicide prevention watch.
Amidst our plans and prep for August 3rd, prep which has kept us working on site till midnight nearly every night this past week, we paid attention to the requests of our kids and decided to give them their much needed change of weather, taking them to a local river for swimming and picnic where the girls entered the water for the first time in their lives.
“The weather in the camps is bad, it is always bad but even more so right now. We don't go anywhere, no one apart from Springs of Hope takes us out, there is no way to escape this bad weather. We spend most of our time in our tents, so our thinking becomes introverted and negative. The picnic was a wonderful day out. I really look forward to our picnic days which help us all to relax, to be at peace and change our weather. Right now, it was more important than ever to come to the river, to listen to the water, to be with our friends with the time to sit and talk in an atmosphere of peace. By the time I went home my weather had changed, the day out gave me strength for the coming week.” - Huda
“It was a great picnic, thank you for taking us out. The timing was so important as we are approaching both August 3rd, and August 15 (the massacre in my village of Kojo) and we were all in a bad place psychologically. The weather in the camps is so bad right now, everyone is thinking about bad things, so to bring us all here to the water, with all of our friends from the other camps, was such a gift to us. We played in the water for the first time ever, we laughed, played games, danced, took many photos, ate good food, it was such a great day. We all totally changed our weather and returned renewed and refreshed.” - Yesra
“The picnic was perfect. I was in complete peace. Everything was perfect. The summer is so hot, the weather in August is so hard, and when you live in a small tent, it is even harder. You can never escape the physical heat or the emotional weather. I loved the water, I loved swimming and playing around with my friends. We had such a great time, it was perfect.” - Azad
"We really needed this picnic. We had to change our weather, or we would have gone crazy. The picnic was very exciting, and we had such fun. It was a quiet, private place on the river, with a wonderful view and the sound of the water was relaxing. I loved it and we all enjoyed it, we girls hadn't been there before as usually we don't like going to the water. Something changed this year and we agreed to go to the water and found it to be such fun and very refreshing. I took a lot of pictures so that when the weather in the camp will be hard, I can look at them and enjoy my wonderful memory." - Nasrin
“We were only recently rescued from Syria, so this was the first picnic of our lives. We were so happy that you invited us, and welcomed us into your family. Every experience is new for us so we don't always know what to do, but we love being with you. Everything was new, the bus ride, the journey, the scenery, we were so busy taking everything in. We understood why everyone was talking about “their weather” and their need to “change their weather”. We don't yet feel this because we have just arrived, but listening to the others we could understand, and by the time we went home, everyone's face had changed, and became happy. We had never experienced being taken care of, being served food, or people loving on us and wanting to know what we needed. It was a wonderful surprise.” - M.S and N
“My weather has been different from everyone else's recently as I have spent the past three months making a new prosthetic for my leg, followed by a tent bound period of recovery. I have been fighting my own issues and somewhat separated from the weather in my camp. I was so very glad to get out of my tent and to go out on the picnic for a day. I have returned to the centre recently but this was my first day out in three months or more. I was so happy that finally I can go everywhere with my friends, that my new leg is good and I can do everything that I want to do. Meeting with my friends, laughing, chatting, playing games and eating totally changed my weather. I love being at the centre, but we need to go on such picnics more often, camp life is hard, and whatever is going on emotionally in the camp affects us, sometimes we don't even realize how much until we get out, and disconnect for a few hours. We all take pics, we all post them and comment and laugh again even when we are back in our tents. Thank you for understanding our needs." - Fahad
I just went back up to my roof to check the clouds. They are still there as is the indefatigable heat. However I sense that on August 3rd, it will rain. Even if there is not a cloud in the sky, it will rain. Our weather will change. It’s going to pour.