"I can't leave them. They're my family now. I love them," she says simply as she deftly maneuvers through the chaos of Middle Eastern traffic. She joyfully makes the 90-minute drive to take us to visit her "relatives."
However, she wasn't always like this.
Less than six months ago, this petite woman in her mid-twenties was ready to abandon these locals to the destiny they'd inherited - dead man walking. She'd arrived with a volunteer work crew to renovate some common areas destroyed by civil war. She was greeted with globs of spit. Bitter cursing. Lobbed firecrackers. Residents told her, "Don't bother with rebuilding here. We'll have another war soon. And it'll all be destroyed again."
Yet she stayed. She continues to make that pilgrimage day after day, and has no plans to quit.
"I've had chances to take a stable job in a safe environment with set hours. Yet I can't leave, especially the children. This is a people project, not a construction project. It takes time and perseverance. Once I saw women fleeing with their children from an erupting armed conflict. They shouted for me to leave and run home. Even though I heard the gunfire, I responded, 'I AM home. Why should I leave?' And so my adopted neighbors stayed with me and did not join in with the fighting."
This young visionary is capitalizing on the foundation of relationships that began nine years ago. Her mentor had wandered into this community, led by a youngster who had attended one of his integrated summer camps. Now nine years later, how do these community members describe the outcome?
"He came and made the dreams of the dead come alive!"
More Than Talk.
Did you hear that? These are not the words of a "dead man walking." Keep listening....
"And people began to smile. We used to have an open sewer that kids would play in, barefoot with rats. Many visitors didn't do anything, but three weeks after he came, it was covered over. He said, 'We're going to change this place!' I didn't believe him. But he said, 'Put your hand in my hand; we're going to do this together.' Now the situation is way better. Children feel human, with self-esteem. Even though armed conflict is always on the verge of breaking out, the hearts of men are becoming hearts of fathers, not the hearts of fighters."
So, what does it take to bring the dreams of the dead to life?
- An insider visionary who identifies in solidarity with her own people.
- A dream for the community, inviting all to participate and requiring all to change.
- The practice of core values lived by all - love, forgiveness, and respect.
- Customized support, tailored to the complex issues. That's Dreams InDeed's specialty.
When we told this young dreamer, "You are an answer to our prayers," her reply intrigued us. "YOU are the answer to MY prayers!" she asserted. We asked, "How so?"
She confided, "I prayed for someone with expertise to help me."
That's what Dreams InDeed does - we respond to insider dreamers with made-to-order support. As one Arab friend said, "Dreams InDeed seems to recognize precisely just the right thing to help make a difference for a dreamer." In this case, we bring three key inputs: 1) talent in developing trust relationships in volatile contexts, 2) resources and expertise to mobilize community participation, and 3) a willingness to accompany a visionary and her community in person, regardless of the risks.
This community has already told this young dreamer, "The reason we aren't killing each other is because you are here. Don't leave us!"
She's determined that the killing will not recur. So she and her volunteer network are perched in no-man's land dividing the turf of two traditional enemies. Just the right spot for a shared community center! The top floor houses families from one faction; the ground floor, the opposing faction. This new community center is sandwiched in the middle, equally accessible to all. The only prerequisite to join the center is living three values: love, forgiveness, and respect. Dreams InDeed is facilitating a process to mobilize this polarized community to rise above their differences and embrace this center as their own.
The Power of Hope.
But this visionary is just one of eight in the Middle East being strengthened by Dreams InDeed, each strategically positioned in the hard places hitting world headlines. Calling on Dreams InDeed to fit the precisely right missing pieces in place, they're creating tangible hope against the odds.
Loving care for shut-ins. Jobs for dropouts. Homes for challenged orphans. Schooling for shunned kids. Dignified work for the disabled. Training for autistic teens. Spiritual nurture for war refugees.
Dreams InDeed is taking action on unprecedented opportunities uncorked by the Arab Spring. Our board pledges to match your year-end contributions up to $21,000, dollar-for-dollar. We invite you to link your hands with ours as we help to bring the dreams of the dead to life across the Middle East! Make your donation today.
Call to Action: Donate toward Challenge Match
Here is how you can join us in helping make the dreams of the dead come alive:
- Sacrifice: Invest your special coffee budget for the month of December. ($10/Day * 20 Days = $200)
- Teamwork: Ask a group of your friends to join together and raise $1,000 to help dreams come alive!
- Hope: Ask your employer or a community foundation to match your gift to substitute hope for despair in the wake of the Arab Spring.
If 105 people give $200 each, we will reach our goal of $21,000! Please give the following ways:
Mail your check payable to Dreams InDeed to:
Dreams InDeed International
P.O. Box 30730
Phoenix, AZ 85046
(In memo line write: "Dreams of the Dead Come Alive")
Click on the PayPal link and donate online.