Monday morning came and I was met by my driver for the week. His name was Adi. He spoke next to no English but he mostly knew what I was trying to tell him. When Adi didn’t understand me, I would call a friend and he would translate for me. Almost always after those calls, Adi would hand me the phone back and would tell me something in Arabic that I always felt meant something like: “I knew what you were trying to tell me all along, you didn’t need to make the call.” Adi liked to work out. Even though I understood when he told me so, he didn’t hesitate to pull out his phone and show me photos of him doing muscle poses and lifting weights. Adi is awesome.
He drove me to the headquarters of Union of Relief and Development Associations (URDA).The main headquarters sits on a few floors inside of a bank building in the middle of Beirut. This was where I was set to meet my contact Ahmed. Once Ahmed arrived, we both went into a conference room and were able to ask each other questions. Naturally, he was curious as to who I was and what my intentions were. I was able to explain to Ahmed and another gentleman who was also in the meeting but who hardly said a word (in fact, he might not have said a single word), about my time in Greece and also in Haiti. I told them that I gained a larger perspective than what I was being shown on the news while watching television and reading online.
It was only after my experience in Greece that I was able to gain a profound understanding of how truly devastating the crisis was, and how difficult it is for me to know that this exists every day and not be able to do anything about it. I let Ahmed know that I aim to continue visiting and working with organizations and camps all over the world that deal with this problem. My intention with any of these trips is to offer a closer, human side to a crisis that we all know about, yet the world at large has chosen to turn their backs on. I remember Ahmed had brought cake that he offered to me, like a coffee cake, that his mother had made. I politely declined having any since I had already eaten a big breakfast. One regret I have is not accepting his offer and eating the cake.