Although I’ve showered away any physical evidence of the first day of the SCM mission, I can’t seem to shake away the feelings I experienced. Our first location was Al-Wahdat, originally a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman. Both Palestinians dating back from the 1948 Nakba and recent Syrian refugees were prevalent. It was a long and overwhelming day, with the doctors treating roughly 700 patients and humanitarian aid distributed in a very limited tight space.
Towards the end of the day, we were all running pretty low on energy and supplies. Slowly the men, women and countless children began to trickle out. That’s when a young 12-year-old girl and her 10-year-old cousin came in. They heard we had “toys” and had walked down to see us. Although we weren’t taking any more patients and we completed the humanitarian distribution for the day, they decided to keep me company for an hour or two.
During this time, the two girls somehow managed to get their hands on a box of candy. They insisted on sharing it with me and placed the stickers found in the candy box on my phone and badge. They were giggly and charismatic; often cracking jokes at my and each other’s expense.
However, the 12 year old was repeated flinching while chewing her candy. She mentioned she’s had a bad tooth for quite a long time- in which she decided to try to carve out the cavity herself (thinking it would ease her pain). She showed me and it was severely swollen. I told her about the dental team onsite. She nodded her head yes, although admitted she was nervous. I got her in and she said she would see the dentist only if I remained with her the entire time.
While we were waiting, she held my hand and told me that her father was dead. His sister, the cousin’s mother, had also died. Before I could delve deeper they inquired about my parents, and what kind of food my mother cooked. We talked about our favorite meals, our siblings, and schooling. She ended up holding my hand the entire time, even while she was getting her tooth pulled.
This girl essentially faced her fears alone; with a little cousin she helped care after and a stranger holding her hand. I don’t think I’ve seen a braver child in my time to date, nor one with as much love as she had for the world around her. May every child have her strength and compassion.