|Our first day of many hanging out at the cybercafe in Amman, we were introduced to Naira. Naira is Iraqi, we learned, recently arrived in Amman from Baghdad. She was bright and personable and her English was excellent. We easily fell into conversation.
Naira's sisters Nune and Sophia arrived and sat with us as well. At 19, Naira is the oldest—Nune and Sophia are 18 and 13 respectively.
The three sisters had come from Baghdad with their parents just two months prior and faced an unknown future. They are Armenians; Christians—thus part of a small minority in Muslim Iraq. But this wasn't the basis for their decision to leave their home; nor was the constant bombing.
The girls' mom—Lusine—arrived and our conversation turned to be mainly with her. We hung out talking for the next couple of hours. As we talked the girls moved from where we sat on the porch to the computer room and were busily engaged in online chat sessions. They had been introduced to the Internet just one week before and were already addicted to Internet chat. What a thrill to see their excitement about the Internet—having never seen or used it before coming to Amman. The Internet doesn't exist in Iraq.
Over the next few days Evelyn and I would get to know this warm family—the Berberians—through visits to their nearby home and through time spent together at the cybercafe. Lusine and her husband Armen both speak excellent English and they talked quite openly about the family's experiences with leaving their home. They put a good face on their situation—partly, no doubt, to make us feel more comfortable—but over time we came to understand the depth of their suffering.