Kuwait, Jordan, and Syria - by Sheikh Faisal Al-Sabah

Thanks to our own Sheikh Jabber Al-Sabah, a Northeastern student and a member of our Jordan Dialogue, we had the high honor and rare privilege to meet with His Excellency Sheikh Faisal Al-Sabah, member of the Ruling Family of Kuwait and former Kuwaiti Ambassador to Jordan (as well as to Palestine).

Sheikh Faisal was in Jordan for only a few days, yet he graciously offered to spend time with us at the SIT learning center.  The Sheikh spoke about 5 main "themes":

  1. Kuwaiti democracy
  2. the Arab Spring and the Gulf countries
  3. the Syria crisis and Gulf countries' involvement
  4. Kuwait's role in the world, especially the Arab world
  5. Kuwait-U.S. relations

Sheikh Faisal has a very special interest in, concern for, and passion about the Syrian refugee crisis, especially how it has impacted Jordan. In fact, after his meeting with our students, he invited Heather and me, along with 2 students (which was very difficult to choose only 2!!) to visit a Jordanian hospital that is caring for many Syrian refugees.  The hospital is Al-Jazeera Hospital (no, not THAT al-Jazeera!) and it runs the Project for Syrian Patients.  The second floor of this small hospital is entirely devoted to  Syrian patients, many of whom we had the chance to visit.

Of course this is a hospital and these are victims of war and forced migration, so you can imagine the sadness, the suffering, the pain and anguish extant in the hospital.  And yes, we experienced these things.  But what was unbelievable to me was to find one young man (in his 20s?) who had his left leg amputated below the knee.  He "picked up" as we entered the room to give him greetings; he literally brushed his hair with his fingers in hopes of looking his best for these visitors, and he smiled, in fact he laughed!  He was seemingly so grateful for the visit and the company.  He was in remarkably high spirits.  He offered to move over on his bed so one of the students could sit!!  This was a moment of humanity and my own discovery of an amazing "spirit", an amazing man, who has suffered so greatly, yet he found a way to smile, to laugh, and to greet us warmly in his hospital room.

Other visits were as you might expect - somber faces, suffering individuals, all of whom are victims of violence - apparently by the government of Syria as opposed to the rebels, or so say these patients and doctors.

Sheikh Faisal sat with a very young boy (5 years old?), who was in horrible shape (I'll not go into details).

The Sheikh told our student group earlier in the day that he made a personal donation to Syrian refugees over a year ago of "several tens of thousands of dollars"; and he came to the hospital today to do even more.  And he did just that, with perhaps a tripling or quadrupling of his earlier gift.

Our own "sheikh", Sheikh Jabber al-Sabah, arranged this entire visit, and ensured our visit to the hospital with his uncle, Sheikh Faisal.  And the students who joined us agreed with my suggestion that we find a way to raise our own funds, once we're back on campus, to help the Syrian refugees/victims in hospital.

Finally, the Syrian doctor, Dr. Naazim, invited our entire group of students back to the hospital in the weeks ahead, and insha'allah, we will all go back.

Thanks once again to Sheikh Faisal for bringing these Syrian refugees, victims, and "fighters" - fighters for their liberty - much closer to our attention.


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