September 13, 2012

On Fear and Trust and Saving Souls

A few nights ago, the phone at home, which never rings, rang.
I know that the few people who know this number are close relatives (who usually prefer Skype), so I was intrigued when my son handed me the phone with a curious and unclear look on his face. It was a woman, in a heavy accent (which I later learned was Iranian), calling about a donation.

Camp Ashraf
Camp Ashraf
Hmm... well, it all started a year earlier when this woman stopped me in front of our local supermarket and showed me some awful pictures of tortured children and adults in Iran. My heart went out to them then, and I donated a small amount, and also (apparently) gave them my phone number and address!

So, now they are calling me again... Hello, how are you? Do you remember? Of course I remember... I remember at the time not being 100% sure if it was a legal organization or not, but then being relieved when they sent me an official looking thank you letter some time letter, and a receipt. You never know these days, when people come with a sob story - is it true or not?



I was ready to donate again. Why? Not that I'm a sucker who donates to any ol' good cause... but when asked, I try to do my bit. I care about humanity - don't most people? I wish I could say I was doing more, but I'm too busy with my life, my family, and so the very least I feel I can do is to help others with a small donation from time to time.

I have other reasons for helping this group too.....  They are Iranian, I am Israeli. Our governments are nearly at war... The woman who called came here as an asylum seeker 19 years ago. I came here of my own free will 11 years ago. Now we both live peacefully in the Netherlands.
The people that this organization wants to help are young women who were hurt in a raid on their camp that killed many others. The women can leave, but only if they pay their own way... So, by helping in my little way, perhaps I naively think I may be forwarding the idea of peace between our nations...

But back to the story - the woman on the phone asks me if I mind if a colleague of hers will come for a meeting at my house - I am feeling a bit worried about that - but then I think - well, why not? And I agree to meet at a specific time and date. However, as the days pass before the meeting, various thoughts go through my head... who is this alleged 'colleague'? Will it be a man? Will he be armed? Does he know I'm Jewish/Israeli/American? Will he want to do me harm? What if all the newspapers/media/alarmists are right, and there are more evil people in the world than good? What if I am being targeted? I start to have my doubt about the meeting and even lose a couple of nights of sleep over it...

Fear is a dangerous thing. It plays with our mind... I think of terrorism, and the holocaust, extremists worldwide...  TV series like 24 and Homeland - just to mention a few. And then I do my best to connect with the naive, open, believing, trusting side of myself.  The side that mainly rules my thoughts and conduct. The side that says - at the end of the day - even people with extreme beliefs are all human beings. I was not calm before the meeting. I was quite worried.... But I cut up an apple and put some honey next to it. I made some tea. I burned some candles. And I asked a good friend to join me - who is by chance a Muslim herself - just in case!

The big moment arrived. The mysterious 'colleague' arrived before my friend.
It was a woman. A kind woman, about my age, with long dark hair and beautiful eyes. She shook my hand. She introduced herself as Suzanne. I sighed with relief. My friend arrived a few minutes later, and we all sat down to tea and sad stories about wounded girls in Camp Liberty who need 1200 euro each to get out of there.  We both donated something  - and parted with a feeling that again - I wish I could do more...

I wish I could trust more. I wish I could fear less.

If you want to help out - there is info at: http://www.steunmensenrechten.nl/

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