A month ago, Abdulwahed and I went with a Human Rights Lawyer to a family living in Balat - a broken area of Istanbul that has fallen into disrepair over the last decade. The narrow apartments have been a refuge for fleeing families as they nominally cheap. That is, until the land lorde adds on all sorts of additional costs; reminding you of the window tax. In two small rooms - 3m. x 3m.(10ft. x 10ft.) - lives a family of 12. The family is not connected by blood as much as by welcoming. One 8 year old girl was adopted into the family after wondering into Turkey after the death of her parents in Aleppo.
This family surprisingly lives a tranquil life. For magnitude of their troubles and stresses, they work diligently and wait patiently. The father cannot work because of shrapnel in his arm and back, so the income is dependent on the children(12-19yrs.). Still when asked how is work, one of the boys always replies, ‘I am not in the worst situation, for that I praise God.’
The two youngest - both called Hammudi pictured above - greet the visitors as if they run the show. Beaconing you to come in, take a seat, they sit across from you as if you were here to ask their advice. The younger Hammudi(pictures with his father) is just coordinated enough to run and jump and enjoys to ‘monkey around’, hanging off whatever he can. The older Hammudi is less active as his vision is very poor - since his first birthday, he has been well past legally blind and can only see inches from his face.
We have visited many times since our first encounter. Our biggest priority is to purchase a washing machine that will relieve one of the women from washing clothes daily- freeing her up to work and provide for the family. In the meantime, they asked for shoes for the children. To our delight we found two identical pairs of stomp light-up shoes for the Hammudis and two other pairs for their older sisters.
The older Hammudi, when over hearing us talk with his mother about wants and needs, took the chance to get in a few words.
Unexpectedly, a package arrived a week later with some donations and inside were some hotwheels. For us, this just proves at how even the littlest gift to these families can make a world of difference.
Hammudi now wanders around his room driving the car up the wall, off the tellie and flying through the room. His voice making the sound of a revving engine echoing through the apartment. Seeing Hammudi like this was a wonderful experience, but to see his father watch his son play so gleefully was overwhelming.
To the secret donator of the hotwheels, please know that you strengthened a whole family in their faith in providence and persistence against challenges. Thank you.