In our community we welcome children in difficulty. Rafqa (12) - (on the picture on the right) lived together with Yasmina, Shemes, two girls of her age here at the monastery. These last two girls went back to their family. Now she plays with the children of the refugee family. When they don't have school these children play, study and work in the monastery, tasting the sweetness of Jesus in everyday life.
Rafqa, where you come from and how long you have you been living in the Monastery of Mar Yakub?
When I was little, I lived with my parents in avillage called Kordaha, near Latakia, but when I was 5 years old I went to Damascus and after that I came to the monastery. I have been living with the community for three years.
And are you happy here?
Yes. I feel that the sisters and the brothers are like my family, but there are times that I do not understand why they get angry with me. It's true that sometimes I make mistakes. But after that we're happy again together because Sister Claire-Marie solves the problems. God speaks to her.
What time you were happiest here in the monastery?
When I received Baptism and when Father Georges submerged me in the holy waters and when "Big mama" (Mother Agnes) and "mama Sister Carmel" dressed me in white. I was very happy because the Holy Spirit came into me (she indicates her heart) and when they dressed me in white I experienced within me that there was a cross printed on my heart.
What do you do in the monastery?
I study with Tamoumé and Tasnim (two girls of the refugee family). [The children received summer courses in the monastery last year. During the year they go to school in the village]. Sometimes I work with Sr. Claire in the kitchen, sometimes I work with fruit. When I play with Tamoumé and Tasnim, we like to make performances for the community, to make everyone laugh. I forgot to say that I also pray for our Mother superior because she works for peace in the country.
Do you work with Jesus?
Yes, when I work in silence I feel that Jesus speaks within me. I often thank Jesus.
What do you want to say for peace in Syria?
I want peace for Syria, my country experienced great difficulty and many died, including many children. I am sad because of that. I wish that all countries would be friends of Syria and stop making war because we are already very tired.
(On the photos below - from left to right: Tamoumé and Rafqa; Rafqa and Tasnim)