I found a few pictures from September, 2011. These pictures aren’t from the refugee camps and they aren’t from a day care center or a school.
In the summer, nomadic families would come to our neighborhood and live for a few months. Our rental house was very close to an open space, so we would pass by their tent- homes when we were out walking. After spending so much time clowning around the refugee camps that summer, we noticed, and were drawn to, these transient neighbors.
As you can see, I was in plain clothes the day we visited them. And I use the term ‘plain clothes’ loosely! Don’t hate me for liking my tie-dye shirts! They will never go out of style! Just kidding! Or am I ….?
Using my daughter’s Arabic-speaking skills, we stopped by a family sitting outside and introduced ourselves. We asked if we could join them for a few minutes. They welcomed us with ever-present Tunisian hospitality, and a little curiosity. We proceeded to be ourselves: happy, loving, playful, and interested in them. I made balloon animals and my husband performed his rubber band magic tricks.
There were just a couple small families. We simply wanted to bless them. We gave them time. We gave them respect. We saw them as valuable. The boy in the red shirt was very smart. He wanted to learn! He wanted to learn how to do the rubber band tricks and he wanted to try making balloon animals.
I don’t know how our Tunisian neighbors treated these nomadic families. I honestly don’t know if they were accepted or rejected. I just know how we treated them; not just the day we stopped and joined them, but every day that we saw them and greeted them as friends.
I guess what I am trying to say is that we can use our gifts and talents anywhere and everywhere. We don’t have to be in costume to do what we do, which is make ordinary days a little more special.
I may not know how to make a balloon elephant or turtle, but I know that love is often spelled t-i-m-e. And when we walked away from our new friends that day, they felt special. They felt loved.
Without a doubt, the way we made them feel lasted a lot longer than the balloons.