Today, blogger Ed Cyzewski shares his dreams for the Syrian refugees: that hope rather than bombs would come from the sky.
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I live in Columbus, Ohio, and am just a short drive away from the airport. I see planes cruising in to land as they fly over the local university. The sound and sight of planes is comforting and even reminds me of my hometown.
Growing up in Philadelphia, we lived in the flight path of planes landing at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in the suburbs. Every day, I’d watch large transport planes lumber over myself and my friends as we played stick ball in the summer and hockey in the winter.
Planes followed me when I moved into my dad’s new home in South Jersey near the Philadelphia International Airport. Planes flew over our home over and over again each day.
As the sun set in the evening, I could see the planes shining in the swirls of an orange, purple, and yellow sky and imagine the stories of the passengers. Some were returning home from a business trip, others were visiting family, and still others were returning from a vacation. I wondered if anyone would be waiting for them when they arrived at the airport.
That positive experience of planes changed for me when I studied in Israel during the fall of 2000.
The sonic boom of Israeli warplanes often interrupted our days while we studied in the library or strolled by the shops and food stalls in the Arab quarter. Our instructors told us that the sonic booms were a reminder of military might.
Those booms didn’t stop the Palestinians from staging an uprising in the fall that led to many deaths and injuries. We heard gunfire every evening as soldiers and demonstrators fought each other to the south of Jerusalem.
Through that semester, I lived in a city where children played in the streets without fear, even if the sounds of violence were never far away. As I talked to the people who lived with this reality every day, I caught a tiny glimpse of what it feels like to live in fear of attack. However, the threat of attack also disrupted the local economy and brought concerns over how to pay for food and medical needs.
We tend to think of the terror of getting shot during war, but I’ve since learned that there are other terrors and fears that rise up in the midst of armed conflicts. There are fears such as where your next meal will come from, how you’ll earn money, how to provide an education for children, or where you’ll be able to sleep in safety.
The sound of planes above was a reminder of hope and stability during my childhood. For these children, they heralded an ongoing conflict that they will most likely inherit.
These children played outside each day with the white noise of gunshots and sonic booms in the distance, but they at least had the benefit of family networks, neighbors, and the relative security of their own homes. However, today there are millions of refugees who have fled the conflict in Syria living without any guarantees of security or stability in the near future.
They live with the full spectrum of fear, worrying about their day-to-day needs, the safety of loved ones, and the future of their nation. They’ve been removed from their support networks and any sense of normal life. Artillery shells and military aircraft have brought destruction from above.
During a war, an airplane in the sky could deliver bombs or relief supplies.
Millions of families fled the conflict in Syria because they feared the former and hope for the latter.
It’s my dream that the refugees from the Syrian crisis can soon return to safe and secure homes in a stable nation. But for today, we can pray for their safety, share their story, and contribute toward World Vision’s relief efforts that are providing education, clean water, food, and medical supplies.
We may feel helpless about “solving” the Syrian crisis. However, that’s never been our role. We can take steps to alleviate the day-to-day fears and tensions of refugee life and give the refugees from Syria the tools and resources they need to restore stability in their lives. We can be a surrogate family that helps them reestablish themselves.
The refugees from Syria are neighbors -- distant neighbors, but neighbors nonetheless -- who are wounded along the side of the road. We can be a part of the hope that comes from above, helping people find a measure of peace and stability so that they can begin to rebuild their lives.
When the children of Syria see planes in the future, my dream is that they may remember the day their families received help as they started a new chapter in their lives.
Make a one-time donation to help World Vision provide emergency assistance for Syrian refugees. Your donation will help us provide basic hygiene kits and food vouchers for refugee families, as well as established Child-Friendly Spaces to provide affected children with a safe place to play, learn, and interact with their peers.
Pray for children and families impacted by the violence in Syria. Pray especially for families who have been separated due to the conflict, and pray for emotional and physical protection for vulnerable children and families. Consider using our prayer points to help guide your prayers.