As I write from my Damascus hotel, I hear bombing on the eastern edge of the city.
I have never been this close to war.
Though I may have been three days ago when we stood with a local family in a chilly concrete shell near Sadad, Syria. Far from any bombs or missiles, these were the living victims of war. Hussein and Reem [not their actual names] and their five children fled their corner of the war to this barn-turned-house to take shelter. Their food, they told us, for almost half the month, came from an MCC-supplied food parcel delivered by the Islamic Charity of Deir Attieh, which MCC supports.
Or maybe I was as close four days ago, when for six full minutes, as we were leaving the Syrian city of Homs, my video camera recorded nothing but bombed out homes, crumbled apartment blocks, and ragged piles of steel and rubble. Some of the former neighbours are now sheltered elsewhere in the country in rented rooms paid with MCC cash allowances distributed by the Syrian Orthodox church.
Between explosions in eastern Ghouta, there is another sound I hear from my Damascus hotel. It is the afternoon call to prayer from the closest mosque. Daily, as people meet us, they remind us of the centuries of Syrians living well together as Christians and Muslims. And they express their prayerful hope for such a Syria again.
Then they thank us for visiting in their time of great sorrow. And they ask us to thank you, the faithful supporters of MCC, for sharing generously as they seek to rebuild the Syria they love. (Read more about this trip in the latest issue of A Common Place.)
Grace and peace to you,
Rick Cober Bauman
MCC Canada Executive Director