The dump truck raised its bed, and clean, bright gray gravel spilled into a pile below. The driver lowered the dump bed and drove away.
Then they came. Young boys, anxious to climb on the stones, but holding back after being told “no.”
Three boys especially eyed the pile of stones. I could tell right away that the smallest was, as my mother would say, “full of it.” “It” being mischief. He began slowly dancing around the stones, coyly at first, then playfully. In an instant, he darted to the pile, racing to the top, becoming King of the Hill. He immediately turned to draw his friends. They approached cautiously, watching me, hesitant to follow their leader. They heard “no” again, paused, and then dashed to the top of the pile.
There they were, three kings of the hill, happy, full of mischief, smiling and laughing joyfully.
It was, thankfully, easy to forget in the moment that below their hill, on the slopes of the Olive Grove in the Moria Refugee Camp, there were so many who had forgotten the joy of innocent mischief, forgotten reasons for smiling, and forgotten how to laugh at all.
But for that moment, these young boys were truly three kings of that hill.
My head was down, looking at the rutted path that wound through the tents so that I would not fall as I dragged a bag of trash through the Olive Grove in the Moria Refugee Camp.
I raised my eyes to check my direction, and ahead a little girl’s face stuck out from between the tents. The face was framed in dark bangs, and smudged with a little dirt. As I got closer it disappeared back behind the corner of the tent. When I got to the spot that lead down a little path, she stood there, a few feet back, peering at me.
On this cold, raw, gray windy day, she was wearing a silver dress, over a blue shirt, her feet sockless in blue slippers.
She smiled. I smiled. I gave a little wave with my free hand and an exaggerated, playful “hello.”
She turned to walk away, but then partly turned back. She looked at me, her dark in white eyes tucked in their corners. A braided ponytail dangled behind her head. At the moment she was a little princess, dancing in her silver dress, on a stage framed not with curtains, but with the white canvas of tents, on a dance floor not of polished wood, but of brown dirt strewn with sticks, rocks, and green clumps of weeds.
I smiled again, and she turned to me, nearly fully. The front of the silver dress was drawn in a bow. She pursed her lips as if to say something, and then turned and left, leaving the stage empty.
The group I volunteered with is Movement on the Ground. It is doing incredible work in improving the conditions in the Olive Grove outside Moria Camp, and in recognizing the dignity of all. You can learn about them by following this link. Now, more than ever, the residents of Moria Refugee Camp need help. If you wish to help, you may do so here.
If you are willing to watch, read, and listen some more, I am willing to share, and then perhaps together we can make a difference. Thanks!