Monday, July 13, 2009

Um Marwa

I wrote a bit, last week, about Um Marwa, who we had gone to visit, delivering into her grateful hands her new micro-project, a home sewing machine. I would like to write a bit more about her now, filling in the blanks about this remarkable woman.

There were many things that impressed me about Um Marwa, her amazing capacity to find God's blessings in her life being the one that repeatedly struck me in the face. Um Marwa is a widow with eight chldren. In Iraq, her husband was a barber, and she was a tailor. Her husband died after the Iraq war with Iran. She has 8 children, all grown and married, six still living in Iraq, "in good homes in a Sunni area," she tells us. She has 17 grandchildren that she has not gotten to see for years, now. Still, her eyes shone with pride and love while she spoke of them. "God is Good." Like a mantra, these words and similar words pour, again and again, like honey from her thankful mouth.

She, like many others before her, fled Iraq because of the massive sectarian violence that broke out after the infrastructures which keep societies civil had been broken by War and chaos. She had moved from a Shia neighborhood, no longer safe, to a Sunna area, "to protect my children." On the day of the execution of Saddam, five explosive mortars completely destroyed her home.

"God blessed us, and he has blessed my daughters," she said, her eyes full of true and honest gratitude. "My daughters were saved. God saved them."

One daughter has severe facial birth defects resulting from the residue of depleted uranium and/or other chemicals left by war on the land, in the air, in the water of Iraq. She had many surgeries in Iraq. "All failed." Here in Jordan, Marwa (now 23) and her mother told us, "God has blessed her six surgeries."

She has faith that a way will be found to "complete the work," which will allow her right eye to open. A bone was taken from her skull and now forms her new nose, allowing her to breathe freely. She is $3000 American dollars shy of completing the long and exhausting process of repairing her face. "I will have a new glass eye, then," the young woman says, hopefully.

Marwa's case was covered by the Jordanian press

Marwa is honest and straight-forward, though shy. She does not like to complain or cry, she says, because she has deep concerns about, "my mother's declining health." Her care for her mom is evident in her gentle and solicitous behavior towards her.

This beautiful family could surely use a hand, here. A heart, here. Their ability to retain their unstinting faith in the face of such difficulties is absolutely, profoundly, and terrifically striking. May we all grow into this expansive expression and humble grace. The triumphs cascade, like dominos, as I remember them. The most profound triumph of all is that their humanity remains intact, and their inner, original Spirit soars, even when their hearts are heavily laden with grief and fear. They survive! They Live! It is a miracle of which they are keenly aware. War has destroyed, yes, but true Beauty was never even touched.

NOTE: CRP is not soliciting donations to help with Marwa's surgery as we cannot finance paying for expensive medical treatments. We are, however, approaching medical aid organizations in Amman to try to find help for her.

By Annie Tanner, CRP volunteer in Amman