24 September 2013

A very personal experience and a call for help

My fingers are slightly shaking as I type these words. Initially, I thought of writing this experience in a form of fiction. But integrity demands otherwise. Although it’s about something that happened to me, this story is not about me.

At the end, you will realize that it’s not only about one young man, but it’s about all of us. It’s a story about integrity and the capacity to lend a helping hand, no matter what your situation is.

My daughter called me to ask if a friend of hers and his boyfriend could stay at our house for two nights. The 20 year old young man, let’s call him Sami, has come out to his family and told them he was gay. His family threw him out of the house, and harassed him over the phone, threatening with police. Of course I immediately agreed.

When I arrived home, Sami and his boyfriend, let’s call the boyfriend Roni, were already at our apartment. Sami was in a terrible state. He couldn’t eat, and he was very anxious and scared. Throughout the evening, he was on the phone with  different people, and from what I understood, his family told him that they called the police and that the police were at his boyfriend’s house, which turned out not to be true. I tried to calm him down, telling him that he has done nothing wrong. Love isn’t a crime.

Much went on during that night, as other friends of my daughter were staying over. I didn’t ask too many questions, as I didn’t want to invade their privacy, and the details of the story didn’t seem significant to me at that moment. What was important to me was to make both of them feel safe and loved. To let them know that they didn’t do anything wrong and that they have nothing to fear. To give them warmth.

My home is very humble, and we live a simple life. But this experience taught me that even when you have very little, there is no limit to what you can offer. That night, I gave them warmth and tried to calm them down. I offered to wash their clothes – such a simple thing, which didn’t really require any extra effort on my part, since I planned to wash clothes anyway. But it was welcomed by them with a huge smile. It made them feel that someone does care about them.

That night I had trouble falling asleep. I kept thinking about Sami. I knew he was 20, that he has a job, that he needs to find an apartment, and that he is in a very sensitive state and needs all the support he can get.
The following morning I waited until after he had his coffee and breakfast and invited him outside to smoke a cigarette. I didn’t have a speech prepared. I didn’t know what I would say, but I knew I had to give him support.

I told him I knew he has to go through the painful process all the way and feel it, but at the same time also be practical about his life so that he can pull through it. That he has to surround himself with positive and supportive people. That he has to learn to accept help without any feelings of guilt.

Mid-way through our conversation, the real-estate agent called him to inform him that the deal for an apartment was final. He could move that very same day. My mind immediately zoomed in on that. I asked him if he had stuff for the apartment – sheets, blankets, stuff for the kitchen. He said he had cups and plates, but he didn’t have any sheets or pillows or towels. Without thinking twice, I told him I will see what I have and prepare a bag for him. He told me I didn’t have to do this. And I said of course I don’t have to do this. I am offering this to you because I want to, and I can offer it to you. If I couldn’t give you these things, I wouldn’t offer them. I prepared a bag with sheets, a blanket, a pillow, a towel, some kitchen towels, some rags for cleaning, two bars of soap, and a cutting board for the kitchen. I listed these items for you to see that even when you think you don’t have anything to give, you will always find some things. Even the most basic things. You will always find that you can manage with one less towel, and you probably have a stock of soap bars and you can give away two bars without worrying about it.

Before leaving, Sami thanked me and told me I was one of the most amazing people he knew. I said, no. I am not amazing. I am an ordinary person, and everyone should act like this. I didn’t do anything extraordinary. But to him, it was. Because he has a towel and soap to shower with and dry himself with. Because he has a pillow to lay his head on. He has a cutting board to cut his vegetables on. Yes, he still needs lots of stuff for the apartment, but this was a start. I didn’t want him to enter the apartment with nothing.

Before they left, I gave him my phone number and made it clear that he can call me anytime. I didn’t promise to help with everything. But I did promise that if he needed help, and it was something that I could help with, I would help.

I know this might sound trivial to some. But it is not trivial at all. What I wanted to say with this story is that everyone has the capacity to help in one way or the other. All you have to do is be aware of people’s needs, and offer whatever you can and whatever is in your capacity. And never expect the person you help to give you something in return. Because when you do a good deed, it will come back to you in another form, from another person, and in another time.

Sami is in a very difficult situation at the moment. He is only 20 years old, and already has to provide for himself financially. He didn’t plan for this, so his financial situation is difficult. He needs to buy things for the apartment. I have never asked friends to donate money for anyone. But now I am asking. I want to help Sami through this initial stage. On the left side of the blog, you will find a “donate” button, which is supposed to be for supporting my work, but which I would like to use now in order to raise money for Sami. Or contact me via email at khulud.kh@gmail.com to arrange the donation. I would very much appreciate if you can donate whatever you can afford. Thank you.


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