These messages, are copies of my daily blog from The Malaak Centre in Akkar, northern Lebanon on the Syrian/Lebanon border. They provide an insight into the people and experiences of these amazing, resilient and wonderful people, who have had their lives devastated by war and now live in circumstances beyond their control. It is debatable, as to when and whether they will be able to return to their homeland of Syria, as at this moment, the war has no political or strategic foundation for either reconciliation or a political will to resolve the complex international issues related to this unwinnable war.
Day One (19TH December 2017)
Message from Malaak, an inspiring Syrian refugee centre, it is difficult to comprehend how these amazing people who have suffered such personal loss through conflict caused by others, can be so kind to each other and radiate such joy and laughter in such challenging times.
They have the ability to show us privileged ones the value of life and how to truly appreciate the gift of each heart beat and breath.
Namaste and strive to touch a heart in each moment.
Message from Husna’s (means Beauty) home, where she was born five years ago with two other families and inside is full of love and laughter and her father’s passion for canaries, with their new born, are paradoxically something that is ironically reflecting each other’s loves. Being content to sing and in Husna’s case, her love for dancing whilst being restrained by circumstances beyond their control and yet somehow singing and with gusto and passion. The hospitality is beyond comparison and the home immaculate and stylish with mementos from Syria adoring the walls and yet to Husna’s life, it is something that is beyond comprehension, as her own life is not in a large Damascus home with her father’s engineering company, now destroyed by man’s inability to life in peace. Yet somehow they reflect no resentments or anger, a lesson for us all, to embrace life and remember that love is a verb.
Go on dance in the rain and show love to a stranger. I slipped and fractured three ribs last night, which made it difficult to sing with the centre choir practising for the Christmas show. They seemed quite pleased about it, no screeching from the back.
Namaste, Alan xxx
Message from Tripoli hospital radiology department. CT scan revealed three fractured ribs, two displaced and a bruised liver and an unexplained 4.5cm thyroid tumour (will have it further investigated on return to the UK in January).
The lesson for me today, is that if this happened to Husna’s father, he would have just had to tolerate the symptoms and sleep on a cardboard mattress! Appreciation of our lives and how much support we have, from being a democracy, towards everyone’s equal opportunities, not just for those that can afford it or whose circumstances are not controlled by people who have no society that cares for the poor or the 52 million refugees throughout the world.
Namaste Alan xxx
The local Mosque has just finished its call for prayers (4.30am) and they like all other true religious beliefs, are calling for peace. I am sitting on my bed with tears flowing down my face, as Veronica sent me a YouTube clip of the Three Tenner’s singing “War is over” by John Lennon. Try it tonight and think of those we love and those who we don’t know around the world and wonder, if only those words, SO EASY so say, yet every one with any humanity agrees with those sentiments and yet why can’t we change the world zeitgeist to PEACE, LOVE, KINDNESS and CARING FOR OTHERS.
One act of kindness, however small ripples out and touches a 7heart and soul far beyond our comprehension. My lovely Angels Kathy O, Linda B, Richard H. The General, Jean J, George Ivonna amongst many, try to give of themselves at every opportunity and have always been an inspiration to me.
Thank you and may we all aspire to serving humanity. One hand to serve others and one to serve yourself (use them in equal proportions).
Namaste Alan xxx
Quick update on my injuries, able to sit, stand and walk today. So stomach and liver healing well. Ribs still challenging with the most basic tasks but improving. Message from my Angels “Don’t take your ribs for granted” and Stevie don’t kid yourself that dominos spare ribs, it’s a myth!
Message from the Centre “of realising ones potential”
It is profoundly moving to see the amazing potential that we all have and yet, it is mostly a direct consequence of where and with whom we were brought into this world.
For Aia she was brought into a world of complete Love, security, safety, harmony, close community. Loving relationships and friendship, with a future dependent upon her desires, aspirations and motivation. Then the tanks rolled in and darkness descended into their perfect world and a dangerous journey across the mountains brought them to Akkar and she was only five years of age.
Now she is ten and her father Rahal works as a guard at one of the camps, keeping everyone safe and her parents and younger siblings live in a room the size of most bedrooms and do so with a sense of appreciation and gratitude for all those around the world who donate clothes, health care, nutrition, makeshift housing materials and generators and water pumps. Aia has basic French, very basic English and fluent Arabic, can sing and dance, acts like the pied piper to all the younger children, has an inquisitive mind and has a sense of confidence and comportment far beyond her age.
If she was born in our privileged society, Aia would be whatever she wanted to aspire and the lesson for me, is are we living to our pure potentials as humans towards others, or purely for our own potentials and materialistic gains?
Perhaps over Christmas, we could honour Aia and smile as she does at everyone and seek to care for others, as she cares for those who benefit from her thoughtful loving nature, giving to those in need of support and love. Live to your potential, be an Aia for Christmas.
Namaste Alan xxx
Message from the centre “of Courage and Fortitude”.
It is Christmas Eve and a time for families to be together, in love and harmony, so my message is going to avoid the depth of what I have witnessed today from the brutality of man, but on the Courage and Fortitude of the human spirit at The Malak Centre.
Today I saw Bouchra, a spina bifida child, with a failed surgery, that left her paralysed from the waist down and a four square inch open incision site, that is still open two years later and tended amazingly by her incredible mother Sheba.
Then it was Omar who lost three fingers working on a threshing machine at his father’s farm, aged ten and he fell three weeks ago and I took him for an x-ray to confirm a fractured wrist.
I saw others today that at times, I had to leave to hide my tears at their plight and to regain control of my emotions at the resilience, strength, courage, and fortitude of these amazing people.
I have seen courage many times before during my army years and in Bangladesh with VSO, yet never of this magnitude, people who daily overcome pain, suffering and disability with no show of the pain or self-pity and when Bouchra was placed into her wheelchair and her open wound impacted against the seat back, she didn’t flinch and yet I knew that it must have been excruciating. She smiled and said shukran (Thank-you).
I cried inside, as my heart burst with the hopelessness of her situation (paralysed, spinally deformed, heart and respiratory failure, open wound, fixed deformities of the knees) and yet loved by her parents that compelled me to kneel and offer my hands on my heart and look into Sheba’s eyes, at her love for Bouchra and the tender care she provided daily for their beautiful daughter. I have never been so humbled before, at someone’s love for another.
The message for me today, is that man is capable of cruelty, brutality, and a total disregard for mankind. Yet we, every one of us, has the ability to change this, by showing each and every person we encounter love and service and collectively this energy of Love, Hope, Harmony and a Noble Spirit will endure and so on this wonderful time of the year, offer those qualities to everyone you encounter and remember that every word you say affects your heart and soul.
Choose your words and actions wisely and remain forever fearless, magnificent and inspiring.
Eyd Mayd Saeid (Happy Christmas in Arabic) with Abdurasah.
Message from “the centre of Hope and Moments”
Today was the first time Abdurasah has allowed anyone to massage his back, since his tortures used to say “time for your massage”, then the rolled him up in tyres and beat his lower spine with metal bars, until they broke all the spinous processes over six months, before they realized that he was a humble farmer with nothing to confess!
Thank-you so much for your support, kind words and wisdom, that has provided me profound support and comfort, when my tender heart and soul have been emotionally distressed by the situation affecting these truly lovely people.
There have been many moments this past week and I thought it appropriate, to consider how these aspects of life challenges us in ways that paradoxically enhance our heart and soul with greater spiritual enlightenment. That is, if we view it from our often normal perspective.
I had a radio link this morning with BBC Radio Nottingham and to be honest I cried my way through it, after I was asked, “how is working in the camps”? The realization that I cried because of the love that I see daily from parents towards their children, as my heart, soul and inner child envied me their bond of love, which I didn’t experience during my formative years.
It made me realise, that all we have every day, is a series of moments and we decide how they are experienced. At times someone or something knocks us off track and we respond usually in fear and act accordingly, because our precious egos don’t want the reality of the situation. So rather than see the experience as life enhancing and stimulating, we react and later we understand the lesson, if we are wise!
The pain of someone leaving, is often catastrophic and we endure emotionally distressing feelings that can affect us for a lifetime, if we allow it. What I have experienced here, is that they live in the moment, because they can never know what the future holds for their return to their homeland of Syria.
Ironically neither do we know what the future holds for us, yet we tend to either live in the past or dream of the future, that we desire.
Thereby missing the moment that we are actually experiencing at the precise time. That is why, they are unbelievably happier than our comfortable situations, because they only have this one moment to enjoy and they therefore make the most of it.
So the lesson for Christmas Day, is don’t waste a moment of life with thoughts that weaken your heart and souls and enjoy every moment with your precious health and loved ones, so that you don’t look back one day and regret wasting precious moments on fear.
Try to ensure, that every moment is filled with thoughts and actions that emanate from an open loving heart.
Forever remain Fearless, Magnificent and Inspiring.
Live each moment with Love & Kindness, using both hands of service equally and watch the magic unfold.
Namaste Alan xxx
Message from the centre. Of camp Lao Tzu (he of the walk of a thousand miles, begins with one small step legend).
When I said to Ahmad that he was lucky, he looked at me as if I was totally unsympathetic. His story, was that he walking down an empty street in Aleppo at 6am, on his way to work as an accountant, when a mortar team decided to use him as target practice.
The 80mm mortar round missed him, but the shrapnel didn’t, it put him in hospital for six months and eight ankle operations and he still walks with a stick.
So I told him about the fable of Lao Tzu, about the two sons. They were working the land when a magnificent stallion walking into the field, everyone said “wow your lucky” and the father replied “maybe, maybe not”. Then the stallion kicked his son and fractured his leg and everyone said “wow your unlucky” and he said “maybe, maybe not”. Then the King wanted men for war and took his other fit son, because the one with the broken leg, couldn’t fight.
Then he looked at me and said “that’s what happened to his brother, and he died in Aleppo, fighting for the army as a conscript”.
The message is, not all aspects of life are as they first appear and that despite tragedies, either physical, emotional or financial, can ultimately manifest in the opposite occurring!
That is why these amazing people, appear so unaffected by the horrendously challenging times that they are now enduring, because they are acutely aware, that for those left behind, life could be a series of maybe, maybe not moments, that may result in life or death and at the very least the loss of their homes, friends, occupations, and business due to the nature of the conflict.
So when life sets us challenges that are not life threatening, perhaps it would be more prudent to adopt my old mate Lao Tzu’s philosophy.
It advocates ceasing any form of attachment, resentment, anger, bitterness or malice towards the person or situation and allow your heart and soul to be open and golden. To enable the universe to guide you towards inner peace and path of dignity and integrity,
I was being offered the opportunity to return to the UK, due to the nature of my injuries, but in the morning found an Angel feather outside my front door. Which confirmed, that my duty is here with these amazing people and by staying, I have been so much more fulfilling in my role as a therapist and guide and so many other matters and through my injuries, which were perceived as “being bad”, it proved to be a “maybe, maybe not scenario”.
Never despair, even in the darkest moments, always endeavour to bring light to the darkness and you will experience greater opportunities and fulfilment than you ever dared to dream!
Trust the universe and accept that every challenge occurred in the moment that it was meant to, even though it appeared the opposite at the time. Remember how special you are and always listen to your heart and soul.
Namaste Alan xxx
Message from the Centre “of small steps/moments”
My old friend Lao Tzu, was busy scoping up dozens of stranded mackerels, millions beached as far as the eyes could see, when along came his friend Confucius and said what are you doing, there are millions of them you’re just wasting your time and it will make no difference. As he threw the bowl of mackerel into the ocean, he said it made a difference to them!
Yes we can all make a difference with small steps of giving love (remember it is a verb). I have spoken of Bouchra and her distorted spine.
When I was sitting in a car yesterday, I noted the additional mesh back support, which by its configuration would be adaptable for Bouchra’s distorted spine. It would take the pressure off and allow the skin to heal over the protruding muscles. So we adapted one and tomorrow we have found somewhere to make an improved version. Small movements that may make a difference. These next images are hard to view, but essential to understand her courage and resilience.
Yes I know it’s unbelievable that she has endured this for two years. So Bouchra either lies on her front with her paralysed legs crossed over, due to the adaptive shortening of the hamstrings musculature, or seated in agony but not showing the pain. They heard about me being at the Malak Centre, whilst in a queue at a pharmacy. They just turned up, pleading for someone to look at their daughter. These small moments that can change lives.
Today we were caught in a traffic jam and the driver, became concerned and it transpired, that he could be arrested for driving without a Lebanese licence, so he worked his way around it, through various back tracks and I laughed, he looked astonished” what’s so funny, I could have been put in jail for the standard four days and my car confiscated”. “Yes my friend, but in London, that traffic would have blighted their day and everybody would be stressed out “you just found some small steps and circumvented the issue.
One life affecting the other ridiculous. Yes our lives are free of CONFLICT (unless we cause them by not letting go). We live in COMFORT (they have no clean tap or running hot water, no light switches or central heating) they have real CONCERNS but don’t express them, because they are all suffering the same consequences of war. Unlike us, who hang onto our concerns and share them with everyone. We also have CONTROL over our lives and decisions, they don’t on larger perspective, because they are homeless and refugees, due to others control.
Yes we have Peace, Hope, Safety, Comfort and Democracy. So the lesson for today, was enjoy every moment and relish the ability to live our lives as wonderful as they truly are in every moment. NO regrets that you ran out of time.
On a lighter note, I brought some Green and Black chocolate out and saved the last bar as my Christmas treat. Then finding it missing, I found out that Aia had shared it with her siblings.
Now she lives in every moment. Life for the moment with love and service to others. I love your responses, they inspire me in so many ways. Thank-you for sharing these moments with us all at Malaak.
Touch a heart in the darkest of moments
Message from the Centre of “Touch a Heart”
We have three types of physical touch and each have very different implications on our emotions and every of the fifty trillion cells in our bodies!
It was four years ago this week, that I held the hand of a great man and friend, who was in intensive care, having undergone six organ transplants and was in a coma, being kept alive by every modern piece of technology, with the additional love and touch of his amazing wife and loving children.
They informed me that he couldn’t possibly hear me throughout the long nights, as I stayed with him for 20 hours per day, holding his hand and giving him love and healing.
I knew he could hear me, as when I mentioned Kathy’s name, his eyes searched for her presence and I found that I was able to alter his heart, respiratory and brain activities with specific words and combined with sharing my heart beat through my wrist pulse against his, we communicated.
This most precious and profoundly moving experience, convinced me of the power of touch and words, as something to treasure and use with nobility and integrity. As the misuse of these aspects of life, often manifest in pain and destruction among humans that history cannot ignore.
The three touches are Tender, which is the moment with children and our intimate moments with our lovers, when we express our love through tender intimacy, giving to the other, to enhance their feelings of being loved.
The second is Physical, which in most cases is aggressive, threatening, violent and portrayed through ultimately fear.
The third is Sexual, and is in my view, not about a loving act, as the act is about self-fulfilment, as opposed to giving pleasure to your lover.
Except here in these camps and Malaak Centre, I see tender affection every moment, as they greet each other with true shows of warmth, affection and relish the contact between themselves and naturally touch and smile when they communicate.
The children love holding hands, kissing younger siblings is the norm and when they smile, it is if every cell is involved, as one feels the warmth and depth of the smile. Aia and Hiba (Cheikh Abdos wonderful, loving and happy daughter) exemplify this naturally.
The lesson for me, is try to live life with a tender golden open heart and when communicating with another, give them every attention. Be present and seek to see the person with a tender heart and soul.
Namaste means “I respect the divinity within you”, i.e. no judgment and respect for their heart and soul. It is perhaps, the community here being brought together by disharmony and tragedy, that they have realized the ultimate gift of life is LOVE.
As losing everything of a materialistic and egotistical matter, was naturally replaced by the strength of the necessity to love and be loved. They realized what they cherished the most, was highlighted when they lost their homes, cars, possessions and status, was that the real pain and suffering, was because of the loss of a loved one.
Each day tell or show someone whom you love, with tenderness and no ulterior motive, just how much you love them and so like Aia and Hiba by utilising every cell in your body.
Be amazed at the response.
The Angels lined up today a meeting with a Norwegian organisation NGO Director, who has connections with a specialist prosthetic development centre for spinal conditions in Beirut.
So Bouchra is booked in three weeks’ time, to have a state of the art bespoke seat support. It was a beautiful moment and her mother’s tears of joy, was so moving. Wow, just amazing, the trip here was worth it just for this single moment. A small step for us. A life changing one for the amazing Bouchra.
Namaste Alan xxx
Message for the centre “Of Music & Inspiration”
I awoke this morning to the sounds of Aia and Hiba singing Allahu Akbar ( God is Greater) over and over again and it was beautiful, as last night in the far off distance I could hear the sound of what appeared to be rumble of artillery fire in the Homs district.
The comparison was stark and it struck me as being absurd, that in Europe, if we hear those words “ Allahu Akbar” we associate it with violence and suicide/homicide bombers killing innocent people. Yet the words, if from the heart and soul, like my two beautiful Angels rendition of these words, it should be inspiring and joyful.
Life is about perspective and it is how ones perceives any situation and then how we communicate this perspective of our own reality, which so often is the polar opposite to someone else’s view.
My two Angels would have never associated their words as being fearful, as we do in Europe.
I decided that I would share my music with them and we danced and laughed (they laughed at my woeful dancing performance, which I attributed to my ribs) to Summer of 69 (Bryan Adams) Dancing on the ceiling (Lionel Ritchie) and Country roads by John Denver. It was very sobering to me, as it highlighted all that these Syrian refugees in these camps desire, which is to go HOME.
The centre is managed by the Cheikh Abdo, a Syrian born man who was warned about government forces searching for him, (he was a peace activist and a non-violent advocate for peace), he departed that night with his family to Lebanon.
The very next day his house was destroyed and neighbours tortured, to try and ascertain his whereabouts. He can never return to his home town again, for fear of reprisals against his family and friends.
He is an extraordinary man with a great conviction for peace and extols only love for his country and shows no signs of resentment towards those people who have taken his life from him.
It is his duty, he states to help his people in the camps and centre and living in the past is both destructive and counterproductive, to ever establishing peace in Syria. If that attitude prevails throughout the camps “if you seek revenge, dig two graves, as your heart and soul will die in the process” Lao Tzu.
I admire and respect Cheikh Abdo above all, as his sense of commitment to the Syrian refugees and his tireless campaign to maintain dignity and harmony above all, has taken its toll on him. He works phenomenal hours, always with a smile, never showing his inner frustrations and he is truly loved by everyone and understandably so, for he is a true patriot and inspiring man who deserves recognition for his vital contribution towards peace and reconciliation, of the opposing factions that reside in the refugee camps.
The lesson for me, is always stand for justice and never walk away from a conflict where someone will suffer as a consequence of stronger forces. In life, be bold and live with integrity and honour and don’t be afraid of the road less travelled, as although it may be lonely at times, you might be privileged to meet Cheikh Abdo on your journey.
Be fearless, magnificent and inspiring and be like Cheikh Abdo.
“Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain”
Message from the centre “Of Cats, Chickens & Angels”
This is Ahmed, he was oxygen deprived at birth and I have never heard him say one word in all my time here. He is a strong as an Ox and he carries two twenty litre water bottles in each hand.
He cuts a lonely figure as he walks around the Malaak centre……………… except he’s not alone, as the three resident cats follow him around, looking for him to feed them and gently stroke their tummies. He is so gentle and yet physically phenomenally strong, but within him the mother cat and her two kittens, see the protective and gentle side of his nature and nobody bothers the cat and her two kittens when Ahmed is around. I brought out some Angel medallions and on witnessing his gentle nature, I offered him one and his lovely smile was heart-warming and inspirational.
The chickens are less protected, unfortunately and as I was treating Hamed, who was suffering from depression and headaches (all I want Alan, is to go home to Syria), I noticed three young boys kicking footballs at the chickens, much to the amusement of their fathers.
On giving them a friendly admonishment about this unacceptable behaviour, I turned to the fathers and gestured, is this normal and they shrugged their shoulders and as I stared them down and said “is any more suffering acceptable”, one of them put his hand on his heart and whispered “ no sorry”.
It was a remarkable moment as all the fathers followed his example and a collective moment of reconciliation that nobody or anything should have to suffer any form of aggression or violence perpetrated especially by those who know the consequences of such aggressors.
As Gandhi once said “To witness an offence and not take action, makes one as culpable as the offender”. The lesson is, stand up for liberty, justice and those unable to defend themselves, or walk away and lose your heart and soul.
The Angels are Omar and Kotiba. It was Kotiba who is the rapper and natural charismatic popular leader of the centre, loved by all and he watched his father slowly die of cancer over a year, with no medications, as they couldn’t afford the prescriptions.
The second is Omar, who lost three fingers and half of his thumb, in a threshing machine accident at the age of ten.
I had the profoundly sad task today, of informing him that surgical intervention in the form of finger grafting, would be impossible, anywhere in the world. But I did assure him that on my return to the UK, I would look for a prosthetic glove as an option if it was feasible and practical and that I would fund it.
He is a remarkable young man and the two of them are inseparable. If they were able to realise their true potential, nothing would stop them, such is their intellect, talent, sense of humour and desire, that they would be unstoppable.
The lesson for me, is never neglect your talents and forever seek your bliss, as you are gifted this opportunity, that Omar and Kotiba aren’t. They will never realises their enormous potential and will most likely end up working on a farm, as manual labourers. In deep sadness for these two legends, I say goodnight.
I witnessed a miracle today, as Hamoudi’s life was transformed, as he closed his hand for the first time in a year.
Happy New Year form, the people of Syria, I have been inspired, motivated, humbled and touched by your thoughts and words of encouragement from all over the world.
The aim of my daily blog, was to highlight the plight of the 52 million refugees throughout the world, who are suffering like those in these Syrian refugee camps.
It was to improve the awareness of their lives, by their stories and experiences of what it is like to be homeless, with no foreseeable future and a foreigner in a land of itself politically unstable.
I have experienced many emotionally distressing moments during this brief sojourn, and tried to avoid my feelings, as this was not about me, as I was ignorant about how life is for refugees and because of Asma who inspired the Malaak Centre, I was given the opportunity to be amongst some of the most wonderful and resilient people that I have ever encountered.
I received like all of us today, best wished for 2018 and on reflexion, they were similar to last year and it made me think about our new year’s resolutions and that they most likely fail, because we use the same thought process that created the issue that we want to resolve! I also reflected upon my own previous resolutions and invariably it was about what I wanted, as opposed to what I was going to give of myself.
Perhaps this year, we could adopt a resolution of forgiveness, caring for others, be less judgmental, appreciation of the abundance in our lives, acceptance of our perceived failings and egos, seeking to offer the hand of service to others, to love ourselves and praise the inner child, seek to find joy in every moment and not to complain about the traffic, weather, gossip & Mr Trump.
Let’s collectively make this a year of love, joy, health, inner peace and forgiveness and truly seek to magnificent, inspiring, fearless and forever you the AMAZING person that you are.
Dare to Dream and Make a Difference to Others.
Final message from Malaak “The Centre of Hope & Inspiration”
The Malaak dance is over for now, as I depart for Beirut at 1am this morning. I don’t leave with a heavy heart and soul, but a heart that has been filled with love, joy, happiness and fulfilment. My soul has been inspired by the amazing people who have developed a beacon of hope and community, in the midst of much suffering and emotional trauma.
Yet the Asma centre is a shining light for others to follow. It is her vision, determination, and courage that made this happen.
At Malaak, they have created hope for these children, combined with education, inspiration and a community that thrives on high standards bathed in tenderness, love and support for the children and surrounding Syrian refugee camps in the area.
I have no doubt that Malaak provides far more than perceived from the outside, because they instil a sense of confidence, creativity and a responsibility towards each other, which will manifest within their own communities and thus empower others, as it permeates through the families and inculcates this belief in magic that Malaak creates.
My heart and soul will forever be touched by this experience and I will return again, as I form my Touch a Hear Foundation, which will be a union between Malaak and BiMAL Medical Clinic.
The lesson for me, is if we dare to dream like Asma and Cheikh Abdo, small steps like Lao Tzu said, “Begin the journey of a thousand miles”.
It is through Asma and her dreams and determination in helping to contribute to a solution to the challenges that these Syrian refugee camps endured, that The Malaak Centre evolved and will continue with our support and involvement.
Let’s also Dare to Dream and & Make a Difference.
Remain Magnificent, Fearless & Inspiring & Forever You, in this year of giving and being of service to others.
From Victoria - part of the color wheel for Syria project
However I really do feel incredibly blessed and proud to have spend this time with you all. This is forever engraved in my head and my heart. I cannot wait for more times of doing good in the exact same company for I would not have hoped for better partners. I feel really a lot of love for each of you, it makes my heart warmer and filled with hope to know that there are people like you in this world. If I had one wish to do it would be to make everyone on this earth like you.
From Fouad - part of the color wheel for Syria project
Guys its such a special place. God Bless all of these kids. Love each and every one of them. They have the character and substance to make it through this. And thats thanks to you guys. And we will help going forward. This is just the beginning Inshallah.
From Hisham - part of the color wheel for Syria project
To My Beloved Malaak and Syrian Color Wheel Family...
I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to participate in what will always remain one of the greatest weeks of my life. I walk away knowing - that in the midst of all the turmoil, despair and suffering - there are people who care enough to make real and tangible change in this world. I leave knowing that there are people who have massive hearts willing to give and not ask for anything in return. I go knowing that my brothers are even more amazing than I thought them to be and that I have four new sisters and friends for life. Finally I walk away with a tremendous sadness that it has come to an end. I left quickly because I was on the verge of a breakdown (as Katia would say... a true Cancer moment). Leaving was the hardest moment.
Asma - you are an angel. What you have helped create is beyond words. May you and all your loved ones be graced with all the blessings you so richly deserve. Thank you for allowing us to participate (in some small way) in the wonder that is Malaak
Joyce - the executive management guru extraordinaire! Thank you for your tremendous organization, your bright up the sky smile and your positive nothing-is-impossible demeanor. What you do every day is simply awe inspiring!
Katia - our princess - oozing elegance, sophistication and class even after days of relentless painting and hard work! The voice of reason and calmness in any storm. Our balance. Your smile and warmth are infectious... You are a jewel... A big bright shiny one... With a heart of gold
Victoria - oh Captain my Captain! our warm generous superwoman! Our breaker of a million hearts and our source of a million smiles... Our North Star! We would have been lost without you. Know that I would gladly follow your leadership to the ends of the earth... For I would be certain that - wherever you go - and whatever you do - there will be beautiful wonderous things
Anwar - Our intellectual and emotional compass... He who brings forth a million laughs and he who presents a billion new amazing and dazzling views. Our keeper of stories... Our merchant of gifts... My friend. You have done good Orge. You have done real good my friend
Finally... Fouad... Capable artist... Willing painter... and resolute workhorse... My partner.... My friend... My brother... I would not have experienced this without you and your focus energy and dedication. You made this happen for me and for that I will be eternally grateful. May we continue to be blessed to always give back - for it is only when we are able to do good that we can truly achieve
Enough from me. It has been an honor…
From Anwar - part of the color wheel for Syria project
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be with you all. This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I am thankful to all who participated. What I love most is the sense of family and community that we experienced every step of the way. My heart melted at least ten times a day. The hope amongst all the people I have had the pleasure to meet is truly humbling and will stay with me until my dying day. Every smile tells a million stories of how far they have come and it was a treat to be part of it for such a short period. Every song came straight from the heart. Every frown and every tear serve as a memory to us all to be thankful for what we have in life and in love, and to spread the message of their reality. Asma, you are the Queen of Hearts and the lighthouse amidst the storm. I am happy our ships crossed paths and long may we help illuminate the way for all those unfortunate souls that we met and are yet to meet. Rich in love and rich in spirit