Peer into the lush eyes of this little angel wearing pink ballerina netting for a skirt. Her wide smile and long black lashes can melt a heart. Minutes before this photo was taken, she and her siblings were goofing around on an infant swing. I could not tell them that a four or seven year old was far to heavy for the swing because they do not understand English much. They are Syrian refugees.
Over a dozen kids were absorbed in drawing, pasting stickers on paper and playing with plastic building toys on the hard cement floor of an old building. We spread thin blankets on a dirty floor, but they were oblivious to where they were. They are adaptable. I showed one tiny girl, who was slow to smile, how to trace your hand on paper and she demanded that I do it repeatedly. I next drew a lime green daisy and she struggled to tell me how to draw on her paper. She became quickly angry when I did not understand what she needed. Eventually we negotiated through gestures what would make her content and she gleefully ran to hang her masterpiece up on the wall. Eventually she managed to communicate that she wanted to take the box of Crayons ."Home?" she asked emphatically. "Home?" "Maybe," I answered.
These children have been traumatized by a war that was conceived long before their parents were even born. Most Americans don't want these Syrian Muslim families here and the tone is not lost on these refugees as they navigate daily life. They are now in America and from the looks on the faces of the parents, I would say that everyone remains in shock. My little friend who grew impatient with me is a member of family with six children that included one disabled son in a wheelchair. Her father had a hallow look as he gathered his chicks to leave the event. I noticed she was cranky and her father had to pull her along to leave. Soon I noticed that he returned alone and then left with a box of crayons!
Another brown eyed girl with dark hair wrote during WWII: "I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." Her name? Anne Frank. We have seen the best in America as the community comes forward to help. There are many hands on deck with teaching English, re-training young men for jobs, assistance with earning high school diplomas and even teaching kids who have never seen an ocean how to swim. We need to walk forward in faith, not fear. We need to see the light inside these children and if it has extinguished, re-ignite it. They are safe now.