‘No one does something for nothing’. Fortunate people speak about acts of altruism being associated with a gain. This is why acts of altruism are rarely found, and when found, questioned and framed with suspicion. In an impoverished and devastated area, acts of altruism are widespread and the level of kindness has no limits. Similar to the retired police officer who spends every day seeking and distributing community donations to the Syrian refugees from his makeshift shop; being intrinsically aware that the people he helps will never be able to repay him. Or even the community that digs deep to meet the rental repayments of a home consisting of a woman and her children because she can’t find employment. Or even the comfort provided by an adult to a seven month old traumatised baby. All expecting nothing back. Believing in God.
The depth of their belief, profound.
I had a chance during my stay to interview some women who had been through the most horrendous of circumstances. Things our wild imagination could never fathom.
One of these women, had been jailed for being too kind. Her crime – single-handedly forming a network of underground community donors and organising silent distributions to the people. This ranged from financial contributions to medical aid to material support. She kept her identity anonymous and people only knew her as Sun. And boy, did she shine!
She was found out by the authorities who corrected her with imprisonment. She was released long after with community backing disproving all conveniently fabricated political claims pertaining to illegal activities. Upon her release, she picked up where she left off and continued her work with a resolved determination and passion, knowing she faced possible incarceration.
Prison is not easy overseas.
She had continued for several months before she was caught again. This time her imprisonment was exceedingly rough and punishing. Not saying the right word or using silence incorrectly could mean a barrage of assaults. Many times she had let out the warning cry an animal utilises to reveal their location thus saving the lives of others. She did this without benefit to herself trying to protect the younger females who appeared to be much weaker than her in her resistance.
She gradually reached a point of hopelessness which she recounted vividly years later as though it was happening to her in that moment. Still living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she explained how her strong vibrant spirit and mental health was broken down painstakingly slowly. Her last memory involved fading in and out of consciousness as she screamed repeatedly for her death. She was released shortly thereafter, verified as “crazy” and left for dead.
The community whom she so lovingly looked after for many years returned her kindness, not that she had expected this or was consciously aware of her circumstances at the time. She was nursed back to health with love and support, eventually strong enough to cross the border.
And people say altruism doesn’t exist.