My Sister, Umm Bisaam

By Patrick Petro, LHI Development Director

It was during a phone call in late August with LHI founder/director, Hayley Smith, and chief operations officer, Walker Frahm, that we decided it would be beneficial to our upcoming Gather for Goats campaign (a fundraiser to provide 1,000 goats to Syrian refugee families living in Jordan) to capture some video of families who had recently received goats through the program. We wanted to give them an opportunity to tell their stories, so we could share them with our supporters and illustrate the life-changing impact the gift of a goat truly makes. Hayley often films while she is on the ground visiting with refugees at our various humanitarian aid programs around the world, but this time she wanted to be free to talk with the families without also being responsible for shooting video. So she asked if I wanted to come film.

My professional background is quite varied, and includes, in addition to fundraising experience, time spent working as a photographer and videographer. So I was thrilled at the opportunity to utilize these skills for LHI by filming Hayley in Jordan. Plus, having never been to Jordan before, I was totally up for a new adventure! Less than a week after our phone call, I was on a red-eye to Jordan.

It was a whirlwind of a trip. 2 days of traveling, 2 days in Jordan, and 2 days coming back home. With a 7-hour time difference from my home in Indiana combined with overnight flights and a fast-paced schedule, saying I was jet-lagged upon return would be a gross understatement. But the experience was unforgettable—and inspiring! Watching Hayley talk with Syrian families in their native Arabic language was heartwarming, to say the least. It was apparent that the families felt so comfortable opening up to her. Hayley’s genuine love for them was also apparent. It was like watching old friends meet up, friends that have known one another for years. No, it was more like watching family reunite after a long separation. Seeing Hayley and Umm Bisaam, who you will meet in this video, was like seeing sisters together again. But this family had only met Hayley once before, a few weeks ago, when their goats were distributed to them.

I could go on and on about the warmth Hayley and the families shared. Or about the harrowing stories they told us about leaving everything in their world behind—their community, their homes, their children’s school, their herds of thousands of goats—to flee the destruction brought on by jets and bombs near their former homes in Syria. But I think it’s better to just let this short film I made speak for itself. Enjoy.

You can help provide goats to Syrian refugee families like Umm Bisaam’s by donating to our Gather for Goats program. Click here to donate now.