Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eid sa'id to all of our Muslim friends!
I began this letter a week ago but I was interrupted by a move into a different flat in Amman. Now, Ramadan and its four days of Eid celebration have just passed but the message of this time is still very pertinent. And our appeal is even more so.

Dear Friend of Collateral Repair Project,

Summer is drawing to a close here in Amman. The weather has turned from very hot to very warm; at night, the long sleeved blouses I wear in public are now comfortable. During weekday mornings and afternoons, the streets are filled with groups of children in their blue school uniforms. Plump figs ripen on the trees in many gardens. Jasmine still scents the evening air, its perfume released at sundown. At night, the city is a galaxy turned up-side-down as Ramadan crescent moon and star lights twinkle out of many windows

Many very early mornings, I am awakened by the Musaharti - or, in at least southern Iraq, called “Abu Tbeila” (which literally means “man with little drum”) who makes the rounds of all the streets in the neighborhoods, beating a small drum while calling out melodically that it’s time to waken for the morning meal (suhoor) before another day of Ramadan fasting begins. From my hillside flat, I watch as the lights turn on in the flats around and below me before crawling back under my covers.

Ramadan is a month long period when Muslims fast from food and drink from sun-up until sundown. Fasting and its hunger helps Muslims identify with those who have hungry bellies, not by choice but because of want. It motivates sympathy, compassion and charity. Ramadan is the time of giving to those who have little (zakat) – and when even those who have little give generously to those with even less. My friend tells me that even if one has only a piece of bread, they share a portion of it with another. I am constantly awed by this. It is very different than what I am accustomed to in the west where we tend to hold tighter to what we have when we feel we do not have enough or when we feel that what we have is threatened.

In this majority Muslim culture, one of the most frequently used phrases used is “al hamdolelah” (thanks to God) and is used freely when people talk about their circumstances – even when they are bad. It is a recognition that one is to be grateful for whatever one has; that life itself - that one has survived, at least - is a gift requiring gratitude. Once, when I explained to an Iraqi friend here that I am considered impoverished in my own country, she became upset with me, telling me that I must never say this - that “poverty” is a lack of having generosity, not what’s in one’s bank account!

Friends, Collateral Repair Project is struggling to stay afloat. We have trimmed back projects and staff to the bare minimum in our effort to stay afloat and continue providing much needed assistance to Iraqi refugee victims of war and, as importantly, as we distribute this assistance, we remind them that there are many of us in the west who remember them, who care and have deep remorse and sorrow for their losses resulting from the crimes committed against them in our names. We need your help now to bring “zakat” to those who have so much less than we do and who are hurting so much.

I’ve been in Amman for three months now. I will remain only a few short weeks more. Our bank account is depleted now. We want to spend every precious day I remain here continuing our mission of representing you in reaching out in peace and compassion to Iraqi victims of war.

We can only do this if you help. If you have enough, won’t you please share a little? If you cannot help at this time with a financial contribution, will you please helping by asking others to support our work?

Please donate today

Thank you on behalf of Iraqi refugees in Jordan who rely on your support

We will be sending you an UPDATE later this week. To be included:

  • Ways your contributions have eased life for Iraqi refugee families receiving emergency assistance during the past three months.
  • Information and photos of our two week Art & Performance Camp that was attended by 45 energetic and enthusiastic kids in Al-Nasr district of Amman – an area that is home to many impoverished Iraqi, Palestinian and Jordanian families. We know you’ll smile when you see these happy creative kids!
  • Iraqi & American girls reaching out to one another in friendship.
  • Our participation in World Refugee activities in partnership with International Relief & Development and Jordanian Alliance Against Hunger
  • Heart-to-Heart / Hand-to-Hand: Donors & their recipients both benefit
  • Intangible assistance CRP provides to refugees here in the form of advocacy
  • Resettlement and resignation – the current situation for Iraqi refugees in Jordan
  • UNHCR funding cut-backs and how these will impact critical assistance programs Iraqi refugees rely on
In Peace & Action,
Sasha Crow - CRP founder & co-director - from Amman, Jordan

"You cannot witness all of these things and do nothing"
[ Dr. Intisar Mohammed - from documentary: Iraq - The Women's Story ]