This is one of the greatest men I know – he was the first refugee doctor to volunteer in our clinic. He is humble, intelligent, and extremely capable. He was justifiably proud of his reputation as an exceptional doctor and responsible community member in his hometown, a city of 6 million people. His high annual income bought his family holidays abroad and they were, by any standard, wealthy, with a bright and exciting future.
Everything changed and that future was ripped away when his city was invaded by ISIS and he was given an ultimatum: leave, convert, or die. In that moment, the life he had known was turned upside down. It was the moment he became a refugee, fleeing for his life with nothing but his family.
After a difficult and frightening journey, the family found safety in Jordan but, like the thousands around them, they could barely manage to survive. From having everything, they now had nothing and his struggle became one of trying to feed and care for his family.
Any one of us, born in another time, another country, could have found ourselves in the same dire refugee situation. These are simply ordinary people, with hopes and ambitions, just like ours: to educate their children, provide a decent home, have enough money for a secure future. Their exiled status is not a reflection of who they are, or something they did wrong. They are merely the victims of persecution.
Whether it’s a one-off donation, or an ongoing sponsorship of our medical work, your help can make all the difference.
My friend, Wafaa, is a survivor of war -- war in her homeland, her city, and even in her own home.
While in the refugee camp she is sheltered from the bodily dangers of grenades and IEDs, of bullets and bombs, the challenges of poverty and patriarchy make the resettlement process especially difficult. As a poor, uneducated woman, the odds are stacked against her.
Wafaa fled her home city in Syria five years ago at the age of 19 with her mother, sister, and young nephew. When she arrived in the camp, though, her family struggled to find an affordable space to live: she was forced into a contract for two years in order to pay the "down payment" on her family's meager shack. She is still caught in a complicated situation; she is prohibited from working on other farms and has no steady work opportunities. In fact, her last "paycheck" was six months ago.
After two long years of working to pay off the landlord, Wafaa married at 21, in the hope that a husband would ease the financial burdens of her family. Shortly after their wedding, however, her new husband's proclivities to violence surfaced. She bears the scars of burns from cigarettes and lacerations from broken glass on her neck and arms -- all inflicted by her mentally ill husband. After one year of torture, she was eventually granted a divorce. It is difficult to move on with life as she now recovers from the stigma of being “damaged."
As a young divorcee without an education, in a new and unknown land, Wafaa faces numerous obstacles to financial stability. Your donation will provide Wafaa and her family with the medical treatment that they need to heal their physical ailments and emotional traumas. Your donation will connect her with opportunities for education and employment. Most importantly, though, your donation will allow us to walk with her in solidarity on the long road to true safety and happiness.
This is the story of a boy named Adnan. He is a typical 11 year old boy. He grew up watching TV and playing video games. He loves soccer and laughs at funny cartoons. From the ages of 6 to 9, he went to school and did well in math. His dream was to be a star football player, like Messi or Xavi. His biggest problem was spelling. All the kids dreaded Thursdays because that was the day the teacher tested them. We met Adnan yesterday and he doesn’t worry about spelling anymore. Now Adnan is 11 and his dreams and priorities have changed. This afternoon, as we sat in a cozy tent in a field in the Beqaa Valley, we found out that Adnan’s latest dream has come true. Far from the soccer fields of Barcelona, Adnan has achieved a great feat. We are told that six days ago, Adnan took a bus from Damascus to the edge of the mountains that separate Syria from Lebanon. He walked for the next five days over the mountains, in the cold, rain and snow. He was not picked up by the army, as he had feared, but made it safely into the camp. When he arrived cold, dehydrated, exhausted, he was able to locate his father. This was his greatest dream. This was his World Cup victory. Now he is thrilled to be sitting in a tent with us, sipping tea and laughing with the other kids. He was fortunate to make it over without major frostbite or lasting effects of the dehydration. But what is next for Adnan? Who will give him care when pneumonia hits? Who will make sure that he is vaccinated? After three years without school, how can he ever catch up? An 11-year-old in grade 3? Perhaps not. This promising young man needs our help. This promising young man needs our help. He was clever enough to survive this far, but without our combined help, what will happen to him and the hundreds of kids like him? Will you help? If just 4 people sponsor $200 per month, we can support a local doctor, nurse, or dentist to care for Adnan and the other kids in this area. Make your gift count, a gift of love to these brave and resilient children.
I’m not a writer or a blogger, but I spend a great deal of time with refugees displaced by war. I’m compelled to tell their story. For fear of safety, this young girl has asked us to protect the anonymity of her family. This is a first-hand account of what this war really looks like. It’s her story…
My family (six brothers and three sisters) was prominent in our large city. We were all engineers, lawyers, or teachers. In 2012 our lives changed forever when ISIS attacked our town. I was only 28 years old.
I was enjoying a normal dinner with my family when bombs started to drop near our home. We all ran for shelter, which was too small so only women and children were allowed to enter. I was with my sisters and my mother. We were all terrified. We could hear rockets exploding all around; then the entire shelter exploded. When I awoke, I was holding one of my sister’s hands, but she was unconscious. I started yelling for help as the bombs continued to hit. I tried desperately to wake my sister who finally opened her eyes. She said she couldn't feel her legs and she thought she was dying.
As we began to crawl out of the shelter, I found my mother in the rubble. She was badly injured and couldn't get up. I tried to help her; that’s when I saw that my foot was only hanging by skin – I could see the bones sticking out. I was in shock and I knew I couldn't carry my mother out. I didn't want to leave her. She forced us to go. She knew she was not going to make it. My sister and I called for help, but no one came to help – the bombs were still dropping. Words cannot describe the feeling of leaving our mother as we continued to crawl out of the wreckage.
When we reached a safer place, I found some scrap material and tried to wrap my leg and foot to stop the bleeding. Many around us were severely injured. My father found us but hardly recognized us due to the injuries and blood. My body was in shock and I could feel myself dying. They put us in the back of a pick-up on top of the dead bodies of our friends and neighbors and took us to a mosque for protection. In the early stages of the war, mosques and anywhere the United Nations was present were protected areas. That didn't last long.
When my father reached us at the mosque, he began frantically searching for my other sister. He ran out of the mosque – trying to find her in the midst of the bombing and chaos. I never saw him after that.
At the mosque they assessed our injuries. My sister was hit with shrapnel that had severed the nerves in her legs. Her blood pressure was very low. Her injures were so severe that they initially counted her among the dead. I later learned that she had been left among the dead when the army invaded the mosque to kill those left alive. Thankfully she was covered with blankets and medics only discovered her faint heartbeat later after rebels had left.
My injuries were life threatening, so they took me immediately by ambulance to the national hospital. The way to the hospital was very dangerous and lined with fighting. We knew there was a chance we could die on the way to the hospital, but my injuries would have claimed my life without immediate help. On route to the hospital my ambulance was attacked. I lay on the floor of the ambulance with the nurse while bullets flew through all sides of the vehicle. I was begging the driver to turn around. I did not want to die. When we neared the entrance of the hospital I could hear attackers screaming ‘kill all injured in the hospital’. I’ve never been so scared in all my life.
U.N. teams were still in the hospital, so the enemies did not attack. The hospital was chaotic and loud. As I awaited treatment in a small side room, I strained to listen for familiar voices; then I heard the sound of my mother’s voice in the corridor. She was crying in pain. I began to call out to the nurses until they brought her to my room. She was close to death, begging for something for the pain. My mom smiled when she saw me. She looked at me with her soft eyes and said, ‘take care of yourself – get to safety’. I remember her incredible beauty in that moment. Then they wheeled her away. I never saw her again.
A few days later I heard the mosque read my mom’s name among the dead. I also learned from a United Nations report that my entire family had died during the attacks. I was incredibly sad and I felt alone. I had no way to know this information was inaccurate and that some of my family had actually survived.
Surgery was completed to reattach my foot and shortly after we learned that the U.N. and all patients must leave the hospital immediately. I was transported to a cousin’s home where I was reunited with my younger sister. We learned there that our other sister had been killed during the bombing.
Without hospitals, medicine, or surgeons, we worked to keep our wounds clean and free from infection. In between fighting – we would make our way to the hospital for surgery. I have had 5 surgeries on my foot. It was incredibly painful and at times I wished I were dead. We had no access to medicine for the pain.
Eventually we were able to flee to Jordan. We suffer – from the loss of our family, from our injuries, and as refugees without the ability to even provide for ourselves. We have no idea where we will live at the end of this month.
Since leaving our country we have learned that our father was so angered by the loss of his wife and children that he spoke out against the violence. We don't know if he is dead or alive. One of our brothers was abducted and taken to prison. We have not heard anything about him for more than a year. Our family is devastated.
We don't have big dreams for our future, but our hope is to be reunited with our family in a safe country where we can work and rebuild our lives.
This is just one of the families our on-the-ground team tries to assist with food, care and support to rent a small space where they can sleep. With more than 1.5 million refugees now residing in Jordan; the need is overwhelming.
The radicals must not succeed in dividing us with fear. Those displaced by war are not our enemies. We all fear war and violence and want to keep it far from our doorstep. We defeat evil by standing together with those in need. We will continue to share their pain and tell their stories; attempting to do all we can to let them know the world has not forgotten. God help us – we are all in this together.