Karak (AsiaNews) - "The smile of a mother holding her new-born child is the best account of the meaning of Christmas in the tragedy of war," said Sister Adele Brambilla, a Comboni nun working at the Italian Hospital in Karak, southern Jordan, not far from a refugee camp holding more than 30,000 people.
"Despite everything, hope is not dead," she told AsiaNews. "It is the refugees who are telling us that it is still alive. And those called to work together regardless of race, religion and belief are also holding it high so that human solidarity may still have a human face."
When the Middle East was hit by a cold blast of winter on 11 December, 700 people crossed into Jordan, swelling the ranks of the 1.3 million refugees already in the country.
Outside areas run by the UN and other international agencies, people can only wander the desert in search of shelter. Most come to Karak Hospital, the only one that can offer help and shelter as well as medical treatment.
"Safaa and her family, including a number of children, fled from Homs to Damascus," Sister Adele said as she described the tragic life of Syrian refugees who cross the border to escape the war. "After shelling near her neighbourhood destroyed all hope to stay, she left headed for Jordan."
"She was terrified by everything, unable to move by fear, especially for her children. She could not walk in the streets, go across a neighbourhood, or go shopping. Saafa was scared of doing anything, of dying in the shelling." Now she is in Karak with her children, but her story is not unique.
"When Marwa fled Syria she was pregnant, her first time. When she came to our hospital, she was almost in labour," Sister Adele said. After speaking to her, "she told us that she had just arrived after spending some time at the Zaatari camp."
"We asked her why she undertook just an arduous and difficult journey. She said she wanted to deliver her baby in a safe environment where his life would not be in danger. For the nuns and the hospital volunteers, the smile on the face of this woman with her new-born was the best sign that hope was not dead."
"Our hospital is a witness to this tragedy, which we can see every day in the eyes of those who come to us for medical help," Sister Adele said. "We can now see what cold and exposure can do to children suffering from diseases, fevers, or infections," the nun explained. "Even providing a bit of heating is becoming a problem since most families cannot afford gas cylinders, which are also risky," she added. "Yesterday, a butane cylinder blew up in a tent in the Zaartari camp, killing a father and his two sons."
Yet, despair, hatred, and violence have not prevailed according to the Comboni nun. A meeting organised on Wednesday in Amman to promote an anti-polio campaign brought together various charities and welfare organisations, in a great show of cooperation and solidarity between people of different faiths.
A project from Ader, a small parish in the south, was presented at the meeting. With the help of Caritas, it is providing help to mostly Muslims refugees who found shelter in the area.
"Another example is our hospital, which provides shelter and assistance to all those who request it," the nun said. This way, "even Muslims who work for us can share our charity work."
"There are many signs of openness and hope, the latest involving a muktar, a chief from an area just outside the town of Karak. Aware of our situation and of the usefulness of our work, he offered to drive us to visit some very poor Syrian families with sick members. "
For Sister Adele, "These signs are our hope for Christmas, as God engages openly in dialogue with life, calling us all to do the same by opening our doors so that the coming Lord may dwell among us and find a home". (SC)