A Syrian refugee just rang my doorbell

Ok so this just happened, literally a minute ago: someone rang my doorbell and it turned out to be a young refugee woman from Syria, pointing at her blue-coloured passport to prove her identity to me before I could even think of doubting it (not that I would have, anyway; I tend to trust people‘s word). She wanted clothes, or anyway that’s what she asked for first: mlabbas.

To be completely honest, it wasn’t the first time this kind of thing took place. Since arriving in Amman, we’ve maybe had two or three Syrian kids do the same, and another woman or two- but we rarely decided to open the door, and we never gave anything to anybody that I’m aware of. The reasons for this are the same why I/we don’t give money to every single beggar we see on the street in our countries of origin or wherever else: if I gave something to everybody who asks me for it, I’d soon end up begging for other people’s help myself. Or at least that’s the idea.

I wonder if it is because I’m home alone right now, or because today I’m not feeling particularly well (though fine in spirit, don’t you worry!). Maybe it’s the unusually cloudy sky, the echo of the call to prayer in the air, the thoughts I’ve been turning over in my mind in the past few days… Fact is, today I decided to give what I could to this lady whose name I have already forgotten. And what I could, in this particular instance, translated into

– a pair of light long trousers
– a pair of light pijama trousers
– two light long-sleeved tops
I told her I was sorry but I only have the bare necessities with me here and I can’t do without my winter clothes right now. I also felt quite selfish but I didn’t want to give her the t-shirt and the dress I just recently got as presents from a friend and from my sister. To feel less guilty I told myself they weren’t going to be of much use to her anyway because they are armless. 
– approx. 950gr of sugar
– half a bag of rice
– 5 dinars
– a bar of Italian torrone my mum had sent me.

She told me she has three little kids, the oldest being 5 years old and the youngest, currently sick, just a few months old. She was also trying to tell me something else, her story I presume, but my Arabic just isn’t good enough yet and I guess it would’ve been weird to present her with a recording device so that I could study and possibly translate her words later on. We’ll never know now… What’s for sure is that giving her those things, I felt weird. Really weird. Even now I don’t know what to think or feel. Part of me is convinced this will change nothing; while another part believes that, at the very least, this changed something in myself. My mind is currently sending me pictures of St Francis, reminding me of his vow of poverty and that I always always always have something I don’t really need. The question is, once you start to give, can you stop? Should you stop? Who should you give to? Why should you give? What effect does giving or not giving have on me as a person?

Recently it seems that I can only find questions, and never answers.
I suppose it’s not a bad start for self-improvement…

Oh, nice detail: I saw my neighbour for the second time in over two months. The first time was when she asked us if she could borrow our scale to weigh a suitcase. And today we met for twenty seconds as we both brought clothes to this refugee lady. I really liked that rapid exchange of smiles across the hallway– three women of different nationalities and walks of life sharing a moment in front of an elevator.

“Good luck and have a happy day”, I said to the lady as I closed the door. “I wish you every success in life”, she replied. Masha’allah, habibti; all the best to you and your family ❤

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