When new refugees arrive it’s never an easy task! The camp is getting crowded and due to a backlog of asylum claims people are staying longer and longer. It is not unusual to meet people who have been living in the refugee camp longer than four months. The camp has people from over 36 countries and volunteers must try to keep them separated as much as possible so that the people living together can communicate in their own language and have the same cultural ideas and values. Overall this keeps misunderstandings and fights to a minimum as some of these nations have been at war with each other.
Two of the groups we try to keep separate are people from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their relationship with each other has been deteriorating since the seventies. A mixture of border issues, assassination, fleeing refugees, terrorist attacks have caused a hate and distrust stands between these two nations.
This is the norm however from time to time we see a glimpse of the Kingdom and what God is doing. While I was on housing a mixed group of young men from Afghanistan and Pakistan turned up. They had been traveling for quite some time and have just crossed by boat from Turkey. I sat down with them all and took their papers, double checked their names and nationalities. When I saw that they were from different places but had been traveling together I asked if they wanted to stay together or be separated.
Immediately they all told me that they wanted to stay together. I asked again just to make sure and went back to the information tent to see if we had space for all of them. I handed over the papers as the other volunteers checked the board to see where we could fit them.
The volunteer looked at the board and then the sheets and back at the board
‘Are you sure they want to stay together?’
‘Yes, that’s what they said. I have doubled checked!’
She looked at the sheets again ‘Could you ask one more time.’
I went out and asked the group again and they started smiling. They understood the strangeness of the situation more than I did. One of the men put his arm around his friend and said:
‘This is my Refuge Brother. We stay together’
We all laughed and I went back into the information tent and told the other volunteers what they said. We found them a place to stay together. It was quite moving to see this.
We don’t often see people break out of their cultural norms but when it does happen it is amazing to see!
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! (Psalm 133:1).