by Janice Kortkamp
It’s a well-known truth that real traveling is as much an inward journey as an outward one.
To travel in the Middle East is both in far greater dimension than any other traveling I’ve done.
To travel in Syria during the war isn’t just mind blowing or life changing – it seems to have activated previously dormant genes in my very DNA.
More than even the previous four visits there, this latest one has me reeling and there have been many hours of almost word-less soul searching as my vocabulary isn’t up to the task of processing it all.
I got to where I wasn’t even taking photos any more for a while and I apologize for that but was so angry at myself for sometimes feeling like I was on safari. “Oh look! There are two women, one wearing hijab the other not. Got to show that.” “And there, an internet cafe with young people next to a bread baker making traditional pies.” Yuck, I thought, just stop and let the people live without the need to prove their culture is “worthy” of being saved.
I could only continue taking photos for you friends and others who love and support Syria, great people, hungry to know it better and to share what you know with others who have no idea.
I know you all suffer from not being believed, from being insulted and attacked. It gives us even more empathy with the Syrian people who have suffered infinitely and indescribably worse.
Getting home is hard, facing the awkward looks and silence of some friends and neighbors, thankfully not all but many. I know what they’re thinking: “Oh my God why does she go to Syria?” “How weird.” “She’s like Jane f’ing Fonda.” “What an idiot.” “Traitor.”
These are folks I’ve known for a long time, many I love. How could they possibly understand after having been lied to constantly? I get angry that more aren’t seeking out answers but they’re starting from less than zero as our media is so completely rotten. Only those who put in a lot of effort, searching through social media and the internet, spending hours upon hours doing so have a clue. In the meantime they work often 60 hours a week or more, are going thru personal trials like illness, are raising children and grandchildren and wanting to enjoy life.
While their silent acceptance keeps the slaughter going.
One of the most profoundly moving moments of my life was sitting in the audience in the Aleppo Citadel, watching the performances honoring Syria’s Independence Day. Singing, dancing, soldiers, children, opera, gorgeous lighting of the castle – the symbol of the proud and strong city that has survived and is coming alive again. The children in this photo are special needs and traumatized children who have been learning some opera while getting counseling and other assistance. Civilization reclaiming ground from barbarism.
A beautiful night, with the flag waving in the light breeze, exhilarating and sobering at the same time; I go to Syria because I believe it’s the most real place on earth.
No, we’re not crazy – maybe a little weird but interesting people usually are.
No, we’re not idiots – We don’t support a “brutal dictator who kills and gasses his own people.” The opposite is true. The western countries support terrorists while the Syrian president, army, and the great majority of Syrians are fighting them.
No, we’re not traitors – The traitors are those in the governments that are arming, training and supporting terrorists and starting one war after another for greed while lying to the public.
What can we do? What we’ve been doing and don’t ever stop, always searching out new ways to reach people in and out of our personal spheres of influence. If there is any way I can help any of you in your own efforts, please let me know.