Olive trees in Syria

I’ve now quit OHF, for reasons I won’t go into. I spend my evenings teaching English, very happily, to two Syrians and an Iraqi. We sit out on a balcony under the stars, wrapped in coats because it’s not that warm. Last night we were discussing lentil soup, which is a staple here among refugees, for obvious reasons. One of the Syrians told me that on his family’s land, in Syria, they grow lentils. I told him I’ve never seen the lentil plant, because it’s too cold for it in England. Then I asked what else he grows.

‘Olives, we’ve got twenty trees at least. Our olive oil’s the best in Syria!’

‘Twenty!’ I pictured a grove of gnarled and ancient trunks, and branches groaning with green olives. ‘What else?’

‘Almonds, walnuts, apples, oranges… vegetables. Our land’s fantastic, it produces the best of everything.’

Conversations like this bring home to me just how hard it is to be driven out of your country by a murderous regime; and then be obliged to live in poverty in Greece.