Today, I am blessed to leave on an eight-day mission trip to the Middle East. While there, I’ll be visiting the refugee towns of Mafraq and Zerka, in Jordan, near the Syrian border. Over 1 million children have fled Syria during their home country’s civil war. They have often left behind fathers and brothers who stayed behind to fight in that war. The women, children and elderly number over 2 million now, roughly half of which have entered into Jordanian refugee towns and camps. The educational systems in these makeshift towns are of course substandard to the ones the children attended in Damascus and elsewhere. Often, refugee women have become the children’s teachers, even though they themselves may not have the education needed for such a task.
Many of the people who have fled Syria for Jordan (and Lebanon) lived in homes comparable to the homes you and I live in. Many are middle income who, two years ago, lived a life similar to ours. They now live in tents often made of pieces of burlap sewn together. Sewage flows through the streets. Disease is widespread.
This trip is made possible because of the generosity of a Midland businessman concerned about the conditions in which these women and children live and go to school. I will be hosted by Catholic Relief Services, a global humanitarian effort, and Caritas Jordan, a CRS partner agency headquartered in Amman.
I will provide updates, photos and/or video from this mission trip daily, at jimmylpatterson.blogspot.com, as well as more detailed stories in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, the West Texas Angelus and the CRS web site upon my return. I hope you have time to take a peek in on the blog posts during my time away. I’ll drop a note with a link on Facebook whenever there is an update posted.
Please understand that these women, children and seniors did not ask to be put in the situation in which they now find themselves. They have no cell phones in these refugee towns and not only no way to communicate with the families they left behind, but a very real possibility that they may never be reunited with their loved ones because of the contact that has been broken since they left their homes. Please keep these women, children and elderly in your prayers.
I have never left the U.S. before, much less to the Middle East or a Third World Country. If you have an extra slot on your prayer list, I’d appreciate one, as well.