Every day, an untold number of Syrians make the choice to flee their homeland and a regime that's proven it has few boundaries.
Many come to Jordan, where I recently spent several days chronicling their stories alongside the Atlanta-based international aid organization CARE.
Let me start by saying that to understand most anything - to really understand - it takes time. I saw first-hand not just that CARE understands refugees, but how.
It starts with my first stop to an apartment in east Amman in deplorable, even shocking, condition.
The smell of raw sewage and mold fill the air. A Syrian woman and mother of five small children sits on a floor cushion and recounts how she ended up here. An interpreter decodes her Arabic, putting into words the pain so evident in her face.
I listen as she details to CARE president Dr. Helene Gayle how the woman's children watched their father bleed to death. How she now cries uncontrollably. Worries whether she can provide for her children. Whether she'll fall ill. It's tough to hear.
Gayle and the CARE team spend more than an hour with this woman, asking questions not just to understand her plight, but also to learn about her unmet needs, wants, and dreams. And they do it hour after hour, person after person, wrenching testimony after wrenching testimony.
We've all seen the TV commercials of various aid groups offering images of suffering children from a world far removed from ours. In a sense, addressing such situations is exactly what CARE does.
But for the CARE field workers I meet that world of suffering and injustice extends beyond a screen. It's their front office and their daily reality.
On my best days, I'm able to use my microphone to share the stories of the underserved, or to fall back on an old journalism cliché, "to give a voice to the voiceless."
I knew going in that this assignment would be a new challenge on that familiar concept. And it was.
What I came to learn is that, in a sense, CARE (and other NGO aid groups) also gives a voice to the voiceless.
International aid workers invest themselves in helping those in need, and I saw first-hand what that means on a large-scale.
There's the obvious layer of people helping people, face-to-face.
But the logistics behind the scene are equally inspiring. There are country managers, program services managers, case workers, volunteers and government liaisons making inroads with cooperative top officials and unstable regimes alike.
Because if they didn't do it, this world would be a horrendous place to live.
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