This is Mohammed. He's 6.
I first met him after a rather frantic Syrian man approached me during evening shift at Moria to tell me in broken English that he had lost his son somewhere outside the gates. Standing in the midst of thousands with the dark approaching, I felt my heart race and blood go cold. If you know me, you know that I'm part mama-bear, and this is my nightmare.
A child lost here?
There's very little organization, no authority, and very little communication within the camp. Within this sea of people, all speaking in different languages, how would we even be understood to ask for help?
Oh, Jesus, help us.
I went to find our shift manager to explain the situation. I volunteered to help the boy's father look around the camp, but could offer little else. I asked for his son's name and age.
"Mohammed- he's 6."
Just as we headed for the gate, we were met by a Dutch volunteer dragging a little boy by the wrist. Oh, thank God. He was safe. Crisis averted. Kind of.
I soon found out just how Mohammed managed to make it out of the gates.
Later that night, while watched by a female relative, Mohammed tried to make a run for it. He is 6, after all, and I think the confining nature of the compound was just a little too much for him. He's a quick little guy, and ran circles around his caregiver- trying to get out any possible exit. We physically restrained him a few times to keep him from bolting. At one point, he tried to climb the 12-foot, barbed wire fence. A couple of times he responded agressively- hitting and kicking.
The kid was out. of. control.
And I realized, as I interacted with Mohammed, that were he in the States, he'd probably be my client.
We're talking classic trauma reactivity and pretty extreme ADHD.
Given some redirection, we were able to calm him down. He and I became buddies (I LOVE the obnoxious kids) and ended up playing "soccer" in the compound for about 3 hours. The kid is STRONG. I have bruises.
After he completely wore me out (but remained completely unphased himself), I spent some time speaking to his father, Ahmed. He told me about their journey from Syria, through Turkey, across the sea. He said that he hopes to end up in the UK. He told me how dangerous Syria is, how dangerous their journey has been, and I said that I was glad they were safe. He looked me straight in the eye and said, "it is also not safe here."
My heart broke.
I asked about the registration process and when he thought they would leave the camp and take the ferry to Athens. He hung his head, looking weary, and said that he thought it would never happen. He explained that he had tried to register many times, but that his son was not able to stay still in line, and so they were forced to start over again and again.
He told me that at times, Mohammed does not need sleep for 2-3 days, and so his father must watch him. Ahmed looks like he hasn't slept in a week.
This was something I'd never even considered. Life does not stop for these people. Kids with special needs still have special needs when crisis hits! Challenging behaviors are magnified a million times in the midst of chaos and there aren't systems in place to help when other needs seem more emergent.
I haven't been back at Moria in the last few days to check on Mohammed and his dad. I've been praying non-stop that Jesus give that little boy's body rest and that he provide a way for the family to travel safely to the UK. I'm praying for safety for this little boy and his family, and that when they do get to where they're going that they are greeted with hospitality and the support that they need.
The last time I saw them, Ahmed was speaking to a male volunteer about the Bible. I'm not sure where that conversation went, but I ask that you pray for his salvation. Pray that Mohammed grows up knowing Jesus as his savior, healer, and comforter.
Please also pray for the countless others with special needs and circumstances that make this journey a million times more challenging than it already is. Pray that they will meet volunteers and government officials who will be patient, kind and understanding.
And please pray that Jesus equip and use me to support them.