On Friday, our students had the opportunity to hear about the horrible situation in Syria and the efforts of Catholic Relief Services to help the millions of refugees. Soha Menassa, who works with Catholic Relief Services in her native Lebanon, spoke to students during the last two periods of the day on Friday in Campus Ministry. Soha gave a sobering presentation on the war that has ravaged Syria since 2011 and the grave humanitarian crisis it was spawned. Millions of people have fled the country and gone to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey (among other places). Soha spent time in her presentation talking about a refugee camp she visited that is run by the Good Shepherd Sisters. The refugees stay in tents in a snow covered mountain region with little heat, food, and resources. However, the work of the sisters is heroic and the children and families scrounged up some money to have a celebration for the sisters to thank them. Even in their despair, they were able to find something to celebrate!
At the end of the presentation, I told the students that I hoped this brought perspective to all of us. I mentioned how I was so angry last fall when the Patriots lost their game against the Packers but came right back to Earth when after I game I watched "60 Minutes" and a story on the Syrian refugees.
This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn a little bit about the world around us and the grim realities that many people face. We may not think it at times, but we are incredibly fortunate to have a roof over our heads, a school to attend (with heat), and families who love us. Many students came up to Soha after her talk so I think it did move some of the students to action.
As we mark Lent and are more mindful of the poor and suffering, let us pray for the people of Syria as they live through the worst refugee crisis since World War II.