I am a mother of three wonderful sons, and grandmother to one beautiful granddaughter. They each make me very proud in their own special ways and give me joy beyond measure.
Now traveling in the Middle East for the past six months, my maternal instincts are engaged in a new way. I’ve met so many young people in Gaza, Egypt, Syria, South Africa and other countries who have shared their stories and dreams with me. They give me reason to hope for their future, but also to worry for the world we are passing on to them.
Thinking about them today, I have tears — many tears. Here are some of the young people I have met.
- A 31-year old fighter from Syria who just helped a young Syrian girl escape from that war-torn country and make it safely to Cairo where she will receive medical treatment for the torture she endured while in prison for the past two months.
- Another young Syrian man (25 years old) who just graduated from medical school and is hoping to continue his studies in Germany. His parents wanted him to leave because it is very dangerous for men his age in Syria, even those who want to remain apolitical.
- Many young men and women in Gaza who enthusiastically embrace their education and then find there are no jobs available and no hope for a future in Gaza because of Israel’s blockade and siege.
- A young Palestinian university girl in Gaza who has an opportunity to visit the USA this summer but her father smashed her computer when he learned that it is a Jew who is giving her that opportunity of a lifetime.
- A young boy (10-12 years old) who spends each day making sandwiches at the little makeshift lunch counter in the Cairo alley instead of going to school.
- Young Egyptian men and women who are watching their country disintegrate before their eyes, feeling hopeless about their future. What happened to the dreams of the Arab Spring revolution just 2 years ago?
There are many, many more stories that the young people are trying to tell us. My heart is breaking. I’ve given up trying to reassure them of the future, as mothers tend to do. I’m simply listening — deeply listening — and letting them know I hear them. I try not to show my tears.