(Trigger warning: Children who have experienced violence)
Sitting among beautiful slabs of olive-wood in a Jordanian workshop, our design team finalized details for serving trays and other home goods for our sourcing partners. We only had a little time before we had to part ways and head for the airport. Work had slowed down a bit because everyone was tired. Two of the artisans suggested we take a quick break to get some coffee and walk across the street to visit their children’s Montessori school where they’ve attended since 2012 when they fled their home in Syria and came to Jordan to apply for resettlement. I’d brought a small bundle of school supplies to donate and their coffee is some sort of delicious miracle elixir, so I was happy to follow their suggestion.
The warm, energetic school director met us at the door and showed us into the foyer of the school. Admittedly, I was surprised to see that it was very similar to my own children’s school with its brightly colored walls and pristine floors. In the classrooms, I recognized workstations that welcome little hands to stencil and, maybe unknowingly, master the fine motor skills needed for handwriting. The children were busy and engaged in their various activities.
Some colorful, hand drawn posters caught my eye and I wandered away from the group to take a better look.
Instantly, they took my breath away.
I blinked back tears.
The crayon drawings showed bombed homes, churches, schools. They showed bodies of friends and family members in pools of blood. A Montessori Guide had helped the children write out what they wanted to say: “Isis took my school and a rocket damaged our home. It wasn’t safe and we had no food. One little girl died.”
I took photos because it was too overwhelming to take in all at once.
Singing and laughing wafted down the hallway. Two little girls wearing skirts compared their best twirls as they exited a washroom with sinks designed especially for children. The director ended our tour on the playground and we headed back across the street to resume our design session. Later in the evening, when I could ugly cry in private, I pulled out my cell phone. The children’s posters depicted horrific scenes that no child (or adult) should ever have to endure.
But as I looked closer I saw that the children had drawn other scenes, “Clouds and sky and sun. I live in peace now.”
As I think about this trip to Jordan in May 2017, what continues to make the biggest impression on me is the hope depicted in the scenes of the children’s new lives in Jordan.
Our artisan partners around the world work diligently to raise their children in a peaceful place. The work that we’re doing with them connects all of us and helps foster peace and positive change in our partners’ communities while bringing you beautiful, hand crafted designs to be enjoyed for a very long time.