Last week we crossed the street and walked inside Shatila refugee camp, which we cannot properly enter without supervision, for the first time. No picture or article could have prepared me. This labyrinth of narrow alleyways is claustrophobic, dirty, overcrowded and wet. Overhead a thick tangle of pipes and exposed live electrical wires form a dangerous, dripping web over the camp. I think of the older children, who still have memories of their once warm, happy homes in Syria, leaving school and walking home to this every day. I think of the youngest children, still babies, born in this camp, the way they run around our safe, clean classrooms, climbing on chairs and touching everything with their perfect little hands, with such innocent, enthusiastic curiosity, and I feel sick as I imagine those tiny hands doing the same here. I feel deeply ashamed at my own discomfort when I arrived. I have not heard one Syrian person complain about their living conditions. The words ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘resilience’ have different definitions here.
SB Overseas is in no uncertain terms a bright light in this dark place. This NGO, this family, built by refugees for refugees, is fighting to give these innocent, amazing kids a safe and happy place for them to learn, play and be children, as children are meant to be. It is fighting to give them the opportunities, hopes and dreams they so deserve. It is fighting against losing this generation of beautiful children to a war they never asked for.