The experience of Mark who comes from Aleppo, Syria and who, since December 2020, has been participating in the Loppiano Youth Project.
Mark Jouby comes from Aleppo, Syria and is twenty-six years old. He came to Italy a few months ago, to study audiometry through an internship at a company in Trent which produces hearing aids for deaf people. In fact, Mark’s family, which is hard-of-hearing, began a School for Deaf Children (EHIS) in the city of Aleppo in 2005.
“I’m hard-of-earing. I didn’t speak Italian when I arrived here and, with the mask covered my mouth, it was hard for me to understand words,” Mark explains in good Italian with a sweet sound that betrays his mother tongue of Arabic. “So, I went through a very difficult period. Then, in December, the family that was hosting me in Trent, my second family, proposed spending the Christmas and New Year’s vacation in Loppiano, and I immediately said yes.”
Thus, Mark arrived at the Project Young People where he began to live in a house with other young people from many different places: Brazil, Korea, Italy and him from Syria. Living together was not always so simple, even though they came prepared for that, ready to experience different cultures. “It’s not easy, not easy at all, because we’re also different in our way of loving. Each person has to lose his time, the things he loves, his own habits, for the sake of the others, and this is not always easy. . .” he explains with a big smile that reveals the other side of the coin. “But, for me this is something that many should experience, because when we are open to the rest of the world, to the other cultures, we are given an opportunity: the opportunity of understanding that the world is bigger than us. . .”
Mark has been at Loppiano for a little over two months, but he says he is learning much, to the point of saying that something has even changed in his own personality: “Because life when you’re alone is not the same as life with other people. There are many things that I don’t do, out of respect for the others. And I also understood something that seemed very strange to me: when we do an act of love toward someone, this might not always really be for the good of the others. Hence, the importance of opening oneself, sharing in one another’s joys and sorrows, talking with each other – because this is the only way to come to know what the good is for the other person.”
Mark will return to Trent in a few weeks and, from there, to Syria: “Right now life is very hard in my country because of the economic crisis. I lived through the war and know very well the problems my country is living through, but I’ll return to Syria. I’m not in Italy to live better. Obviously, things are better here. But in my country there is need, and I will go back: If I can help one person or do something for the deaf children, that would be a great gift for me.” He concludes: “God is always there. I believe that my country will one day return great and all of you will be able to see another side of Syria and you will all be welcome!”
We are obliged to ask: Mark, how would you define Loppiano? What is this Mariapolis for you?
He answered without hesitation: “Loppiano is a place where you can learn the meaning of this phrase: “Jesus in the Midst”. Because here we decide together, think and live together. This is like a paradise, a great opportunity. Loppiano is also a place of peace. Of course, we all know that it’s not like that out there. . . but this can be a place where you are strengthened, where you find the courage to carry on living for peace – even out there.
EHIS and the Emergency Syria Program’s Seeds of Hope
Action for a United World (AMU) supports EHIS for deaf children, who are not allowed to attend public or private schools. The school was begun in 2005 by Mark’s parents, John and Vivian. Their story is explained in the article Da Aleppo riparte la speranza. Thanks to the Seeds of Hope Program, 50 children will receive support for speech therapy, and 100 children will attend school. EHIS also provides intervention for 40 external people with pronunciation problems and for 70 people who are in need of support for hearing function.