19 July 2010
IRAQ REFLECTION: Extravagant hospitality
by David Hovde
Within the first week I arrived in Iraq, I traveled with CPT¹s Iraq team
out of the city where we live, Sulaimaniyah, to the Zharawa camp for
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The people who live in this camp had to leave
their lands, which are on the border with Iran, because the Iranian and Turkish militaries consistently bomb those areas, claiming to target
Kurdish resistance groups.
The day was very hot, and the camp had no shade. The material of the
tents was old, and some were coming apart. I learned later that each tent
housed two families.
Several men greeted us, and led us into a tent. We sat down on the rug
in a place set aside for visitors and were served cool glasses of water.
While we talked, someone drew our attention to the noise of bombs or shells in
distance. Men from the camp told that the government had said a team
would come with new tents, but they never came. A fire burned one tent and the eight people who lived in it had to move in with others. The families
not received any food aid since last year and have not been able to work their land by the border for three years. The bombs keep dropping.
“We ask that the bombing stop. Or, if that is not possible, we want to
live here. But, we need help from the government or from any organization”
the men said. We agreed that we would accompany some of the camp residents
to a meeting with the local mayor.
Before we left the camp, a family treated us to a cool yogurt drink.
We then went to the nearby town of Rania to the home of a television reporter who was at the camp with us. He has done reports on the
situation of the people in the camp. He and his wife have three young children:
girls and a boy. They served us a traditional fish and rice dish on top
of a cloth on the floor.
The children were cheerful and batted balloons around with us. Just
before we left, the family served us fruit. When I thanked them and said the
food was delicious, they thanked us for coming from our countries to do the
workwe are doing.
As we drove home through the desert mountains, I was amazed at how
beautiful the land was. I was also awestruck by the extravagant hospitality we had received.