A mother of four welcomed us into their tent. She said that her husband was in jail in Lebanon. It was up to her to try and raise the $200 per person in her family to pay for residence. Her eldest child looked about nine. One of her youngest was an adorable, green-eyed, auburn-haired little boy who first offered me a bite of his chocolate donut when we met.
Later that night, the guys I was with took me out for dinner to a place in town. Shams Restaurant it was called. Imagine a massive dining hall with as many people working as there were eating. Two huge projection screens on either side of the restaurant with a constant loop of a commercial promoting none other than Shams Restaurant. Ahmed had remembered that I had a birthday coming up so he secretly arranged with the waiter to bring me out a cake and sing me happy birthday. Not the greatest way to keep a low profile, but a sweet gesture nonetheless. It’s always a bit embarrassing when your friends and family do that to you in public. I really wish I could articulate how this specific experience took it to a whole other level.
The next morning we returned to one of the camps where the same women was with her four children. Those that know me well know that I am not big on birthday cake, so I had them box it up the night before. I wanted to give it to the family who I was moved by the previous day. When the little boy heard that I was there to give him the cake he went inside and grabbed some change that he must have had hidden. He tried to offer it to me in exchange for the cake. This was a moment that melted my heart.