Monday, February 11, 2013

TOMS Distribution: Photos tell the story

Trucks loaded with boxes, we hit the road on Sunday to visit a very small village for a distribution of TOMS boots. Enjoy the pictures that tell the story of how we were honored to spend the day serving beautiful people who live humbly, and were so grateful in their hospitality of hosting us. Thank you TOMS for this opportunity.



Ready to take us to his village...

 Waiting for the children to arrive...


Checking out the goods...

 
The children have arrived!
 
They were calm as they waited for their turn...

So happy
Time to see if they fit

"Please let us serve you lunch!"

Lunch is served!




Walking us out after lunch...





Hitting the road...
It was a great day...






Sunday, February 3, 2013

Initial Thoughts


“They are so quiet.”

This was the confusing thought running through my head as my plane for Kurdistan was preparing to board out of Istanbul. The moment the shuttle bus began the taxi process across the outside terminal to drop us at our aircraft, all noise ceased. I stood there for a moment perplexed at the silence.  “Wow. This certainly isn’t Egypt I am going to.” Where's all the shoving? The shouting? The lack of personal space? I was prepared to deal with it, but I didn't have to. Right there I realized I must break a very dangerous habit, comparing and contrasting Kurds with Egyptians...or at least I should try.



I caught myself being that strange foreigner…the one who stares. But I couldn’t help it. As I looked around the crammed shuttle, I studied the faces of these people I knew little about, a culture I had Googled obsessively since September, and who held a chilling history I had only seen in pictures. Faces I had seen online of their dead, murdered relatives flashed through my mind. It wasn’t that long ago that Saddam Hussein targeted the Kurds as his prey to annihilate. And here I was face to face with them, wondering what I could possibly offer these people who knew hell on earth. With their long faces, squinty eyes, and prominently defined noses they stood tall…very unArab…with no nation to call their own, no home void of harassment or lavished with respect.



Upon my arrival into Kurdistan, Iraq I shuffled quickly to get out my passport to obtain my visa. Seeing the blue cover with the words United States of America printed boldly across the top, the guard put up his hand, and told me proceed. I was American, I didn’t need to purchase a visa. Why? I have quickly learned that Kurds consider America the one that saved them from Saddam. Just mentioning George Bush brings a giant, friendly, smile to their faces, and they are at ease…I wasn't used to this response in the Middle East.



After a one hour drive from the airport to our village, I heard the words “we’re here.” As we pulled into our 10 acre compound, I couldn’t take it all in quickly enough. I had waited months to be here, but it so dark and I couldn’t see clearly. Passing a few buildings, three giant villas were pointed out to me. The one on the left was mine. My what? My house. I have since learned that my house is way too big for one person, 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms. Oh my. That's a lot of space.

Pictures will be posted shortly, as well as more on my transition into Kurdish culture.