If you Google “Syria” you won’t find a lot of good news or happy words returned to your screen.
Just today the United Nations presented the biggest financing appeal in its’ history, asking for $5 billion dollars in humanitarian aid for Syria to help with the millions of people affected by its’ civil war and to contain the mounting pressures on surrounding nations overwhelmed by Syrian refugees flooding across borders.
In times of desperation, turmoil, and darkness it is nearly impossible, or at best foolhardy, to seek beacons of light or reasons for hope. Yet today, there is real hope in Syria. There is hope because of a different sort of word than what is returned in your internet search of “Syria.” There is hope today in Syria because as long as this word exists, hope will be everlasting and ultimately drive out the darkness:
Ghassan noticed Azhar in 2010 at their first team gathering for swim practice in preparation for the 7th Special Olympics Middle East North Africa (MENA) Regional Games held in Damascus, Syria. Despite his great skill in swimming, he was not able to give all he had that day. He knew he could do better, but the thought of Azhar’s sky blue eyes distracted him.
Day after day, Ghassan’s feelings towards Azhar grew stronger. She felt the same way. Ghassan once missed two days of practice, when he showed up the third day, Azhar’s joy was obvious. That is when Ghassan realized that their feelings for each other were mutual.
They fell in love thru the on-going activities provided by Special Olympics Syria for their athletes. Their days consisted of swimming practice in the morning, then Syrian singing and dancing in the evening. One day, they realized they couldn’t live without each other.
Their families had been aware of the relationship, thinking it was only a temporary crush that would be over soon. However, with Ghassan and Azhar, their teammates and friends knew that it was real love.
When Ghassan won 2 gold medals in the 2010 Special Olympics MENA Regional Games (Azhar won a bronze medal), he gave her his medals, considering it an engagement present.
Following the Regional Games, Ghassan asked his father to go with him to Azhar’s house to ask for her hand. The families readily agreed and an engagement ceremony was held. Azhar wore a beautiful wedding band while Syrian folk music and dancing surrounded she and Ghassan.
As their bond grew, they decided to live together. This year, they were married.
Ghassan and Azhar wed in a small ceremony hosted by the two families and their close friends. One of their favorite activities is to take out photos from all of their competitions over the years. Inevitably they linger over the photos from the 2010 Regional Games in Damascus as they recall the memories of where their love was born.
In those memories, lay hope for a nation.