Friday, March 20, 2009

love's light reaches far - March 12 09

Um Mohammed was one of CRP's very first micro-project recipients and, at the time, this family was in some of the worst conditions of any we had visited. Then two different donors reached out in compassion and friendship to this struggling family provided them with a heater, carpets, furniture, and a replacement for Um Mohammed's initial sewing machine that she had to sell in order to pay for a critically needed surgery when she had no other options.

I have seen a dramatic change in their outlooks as well as their living situation since the first time we met two years ago.

They no longer live in the small damp apartment with mold-blackened walls that was accessed by climbing down a very long stairway on the side of a steep hill. They recently moved to a different flat, in another area of Amman and although it is very low rent, it is bright and much larger and in a thriving neighborhood. But not all of the improvements in their situation are tangible.

On my visit to them before I left Amman in Jan 07, Um Mohammed was depressed and crying, telling us that she and her husband were seriously considering returning to Iraq because of their bad situation here. She wept, "If we only had the $2000 to pay the *fines, we would leave here now"
* most Iraqis in Jordan have overstayed their initial visas. There is a 1.5JD fine Per Person, Per Day for every day one stays beyond their visa. The total amount owed in fines must be paid to immigration before one is allowed to leave Jordan. For large families, this amount rapidly becomes formidable.

They hoped for resettlement to a third country and this past year, they were interviewed and then refused resettlement because, at their final interview for resettlement because Um Mohammed's husband, when asked what would happen to him if he returned to Iraq, had answered honestly; he told them, "I do not know" Of course he did not know for certain but it is very likely that the death threats that forced them to flee will not have gone away. We referred their case to Yale Law Group who has now filed an appeal on behalf of this family.

Also, our local community in southern Oregon wrote letters to IOM, offering to provide non-financial support to integrate the family into our community and new culture if they are allowed to resettle there. Um Mohammed and her family know that there are people a half world away who care about them and who are doing what they can to repair their lives. They know they are loved.

Every time I have seen Um and Abu Mohammed now, their smiles come easy and with a very upbeat attitude. They and their children have become "family" to us. They think of faraway people they have never met as family, too.

We brought gifts for the kids from "the people in America". Here's what your love looks like beamed back at you!