Since we got to Israel, we’ve had many different kinds of days. Starting from our days of exploration and learning in Jerusalem, to the early stages of our work in Arad, none have been the same. However, none have been charged likethe last two.
Leaving our apartments at 5AM we hiked our way up Masada to watch an incredible sunrise over the Dead Sea and Jordan. Afterwards, we spent time floating in the Dead Sea. It was incredibly relaxing and for the first time in days, we didn’t get up early to work and didn’t spend our morning busy. But, we had no idea what was waiting for us in the evening.
On Friday night we were invited by Ben Gurian-Student for Refugees to help them map out the status of the Asylum Seekers living in Arad Saturday night. We weren’t sure what to expect, we had nothing to compare it to. After setting up on Saturday night, the doors opened and the people streamed in.
We got a humbling experience that night. We heard stories of many people who had to flee their homes for situation that were out of their control, activists who were wanted by their oppressive governments, and civilians who had their lives uprooted by a conflict. Most, if not all, of these people had to cross through Egypt (a trip that is approximately 1200 miles) in deadly situations. After they arrive in Israel they face the next challenges. First they are normally arrested for an undetermined time. Later on, they have a Visa, which doesn’t allow them to work, or anything. They can’t live back in their country and they are not wanted by the Israeli government; in other words, the situation felt helpless, but the hope they had for a better future motivated us to keep working.
We count it as an incredible opportunity to help in any minute way possible and feel deeply honored that they trusted us with their stories. The Asylum Seeker community in Arad is filled with inspiring and beautiful people, even in the midst of the complicated and challenging situations they live in. We know we can neverforget them and this experience bonds us.
In a perfect utopia, no one would ever have to go through what these incredibly strong men and women have seen; unfortunately we cannot change the past. But, hopefully we can take this experience we’ve had here in Israel to strive for a better, hopeful, and brighter future for the Asylum Seekers throughout our beautifully flawed world.