Sami our Gardener has been super busy this week, determinedly cleaning out all that remains of summer. The greenhouses are empty. The green peppers are finished, a few red are hanging there, soon to be uprooted. I had yearned for red peppers all summer, he assured me there would be none. "They only come at the end of the summer when they are bitter, only good for seeds, if you eat them you will get sick."
We have seeds for next year, in more ways than one. The honeydew melons that were so succulent and delicious are now rotting on the ground. That which was eaten with relish during the summer has, within the space of one week, become poisonous. The season has changed, and we too need to move into the next one.
Today I will give a platform to the voices of our team and students who want to be heard, who want to share their experience of August 3rd with you. Many come to me saying, "What about me, I would like to be in the 'International magazine' !!" After this, we relinquish the summer and look ahead to all that the autumn holds for us.
"The innocent girls all of whom had been in captivity touched me the most with their dances. Both in rehearsals and in the event, I cried. My heart was so touched, I will never forget these moments. It was mind blowing, I have carried tears in my eyes all week. I was wondering about those who know them, and those who see the videos we send out, how they would feel if they had suffered like them. Do those watching even understand the depth of the miraculous here? I was over the moon when I saw their triumph over their suffering, when I saw that they are full of joy, more than even the average person. I wonder what people think, how they respond, people who don't comprehend such depths of suffering. The seven year journey of these girls has changed my life." - Sahla
"I usually hate this day, the 3rd of August. It is a day of death, mourning and of politics. We are different. Our students know that, they also know if they need to weep and mourn, we are not the place. Everything that we did was so powerful, and if someone was not interested then he would have no idea what we were doing. We moved from darkness to light, and those who attended moved with us. No one was left behind. There was no need to explain, everyone understood, saw and felt and moved. On Facebook it's different, people are asking questions but they were not there, so they will not understand.
Many of the rescued kids came wearing black but their inside was full of color. They were respectful but not in a place of death or mourning. The event took two hours which went by as if it were five minutes. It gave everyone a chance to honor his family yet chose life.
I am very quiet, I keep my feelings to myself but it was hard as I wanted to cry and smile at the same time. I think that inside I was crying all the time, especially when I watched the dramatic dances of the girls. I had been so busy in my preparation that I had no time to watch their rehearsals so I was hit with a hammer when I saw their performance which was their life story. It was so powerful. I thought that the exhibition that we had made on Aslan was powerful, this was even more so. Their stones became crowns, their weight became their victory. My heart was healed when they raised their hands up. They raised them up to God, that is why they were healed.
I am sure that there were those who had no idea what we were doing, what our seven year journey represented but one day they will. There will come a day, each in his own time, when they will remember and understand the moving from death to life, from black to light and color. Nothing of that day will be lost. Every action, everything stands for eternity.
It was important to create an interactive art event. Our life is together, our journey is together. No one can do it alone. In the late hours, around 10 pm we painted the black square representing the beginning of our journey. Together, after walking through the Door of Hope, and standing at the Fountain of Life, then and only then were we ready to paint hope, to make hope come alive. We poured cans of paint onto the black and only by holding on to each other to keep us from falling, could we make hope come alive in color."
- Salam, Art Director
"I have already shared my thoughts and experiences with you about the black door. I will say again, it was hard for us all to pass through, but we have ruined it for eternity. It holds no power over us now. This week I am different, I have changed, I am living inside that blue door
The sculpture made by Shex Khalid was powerful for me, each number held the other number up. This represents our centre, our life together, no one can exist alone, we are one body, together, holding each other up. Whatever happens to one, touches us all. Each year is connected to the other, what will happen in this year is connected to last year. The year seven at the top of the sculpture symbolized completion, peace. We could not have reached his place without the six previous years. We could not have reached this place without each other.
When K broke through the door of suffering, it was a message of triumph for every woman in the world. In that moment, my body and my heart were both breaking and coming together again with power and energy. She showed that it is possible to destroy the sadness of every suffering woman in the world. Her message should go to the world. When she raised her wings to the sky she told every woman to never give up, but to break every wall, every prison, every chain they face.
When she covered them with her wings, it was as if she was comforting them, putting all their suffering under their wings and removing it. It was a very special moment for everyone, we were all there under her wings. Healing was happening to each one of us.
My guitar students were so proud to be playing in the garden, inside the Door of Hope. Speaking to them this week they all said that a weight had fallen off their shoulders and had gone out of their heart, leaving them full of peace and hope for the future.
Finally, Salam’s active artwork was the perfect way to end the event, to literally walk it out. To confirm the destruction of the black door by trampling on the black cloth with colored paint, by walking all over it and yet again taking the power of the black away. It was perfect."
- Natik, Music Director
"This day will never be forgotten. It was a historical day. It is impossible to speak of it because it was so sacred but I will try. The number seven is so important, seven years of suffering and seven angels. It was a sacred day, a holy day, I believe that the holy angels joined with us to witness the suffering being removed. The number seven redeemed everything, the number seven was like a white dove touching us and removing the pain of the hard years, touching us and bringing us life, hope, peace and joy. For sure the seven angels were with us."
- Avya. Play Therapist
"There were cheers of joy in the highest heaven."
- Shex Sirwan
"I have been waiting seven years to paint a special painting. It's a story that I have carried inside me for seven years. A story that has haunted my father for seven years. This year was the right time to tell the story.
We are a large family. When Daesh entered our village, we rounded everyone up and piled into our pick-up trucks. Within minutes of the news of the siege of Shingal, we were moving. We were packed tightly on the trucks, we took neighbors, we were all standing up with no room to move. Yuva, one of our young children, was also packed in with us. Daesh was closing in on us. From his mirror, my father saw little Yuva fall from the pick-up. He had two choices, to stop and save Yuva, or to continue and to save the family. He continued and watched through his mirror as Yuva was picked up by Daesh. He said nothing. When we reached safety, he stopped, my mother went to the back of the pickup to look for Yuva. With tears running down his face, my mother heard about the choice he had been forced to make, and the fate of Yuva. We all wept, and have wept until this day."
The summer is drawing to its close. We took a group of our pre teen girls to the water this week, realizing that if we wait another couple of weeks, the water will be too cold. Summer arrived with The Fire in Shariya Camp, and for us, drew to a close around a refreshing fountain of water inside our garden. We look in our rear view mirror and see a hot, intense, relentless summer, one that like the winter of 2021 stretched our capacity, causing us to dig deeper to live in joy, to forgive faster, and to love without ceasing, going the extra mile every hour of the day.
As we pick up rotten melons and put them for compost, this is my prayer over our summer months, "So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth, it will not return to me void, useless, without producing an effect, but it shall succeed in that for which I sent it, and prosper in it." Isaiah 55.11I remember in my childhood years heading to the Hula Valley in Israel at this season to watch the migration of the birds making their way to winter safety, always a sight to behold and to marvel how they know when to fly, when to leave, where to land. I think of the truth of the words of Jeremiah "Even storks in the sky know their seasons. Turtle doves, swallows and cranes are aware of their migration but my people do not know my requirements."
As we begin to think of autumn we want to connect with the season and all that it holds. Horses and cowboys are on our radar, as are classes in aviation ( to our great surprise ) in partnership with Women in Aviation, and Captain Tammi Jo from American Airways. Hope Couture by the Sewing Hope ladies is flying as bags made by our creative Yezidi ladies reach the ends of the earth. We are inviting pre-teens into our Academy of Leadership. Autumn, just like the produce in Sami’s garden, will have an aroma and taste unique to this time in our community history. Sami, by the way, is busy planting autumn seedlings.
We were talking to a local farmer who came to give us planting advice, "winter will come fast this year," he said, "just look at the skies, look at the clouds, look at the growth in the fields, look at the seeds on the milk thistles. The signs are there, winter will come early. I am preparing for winter now, even in the heat of the late summer."
May we be ready and prepared for all that is ahead and in total step with that which is needed and required of us in this coming season.