Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CRP Today March 26, 2010


It's been two months exactly since I posted my last "TODAY" but even if I haven't posted, all of the days between March and now have been filled to overflowing with the work of CRP. We moved into the new location and have set up the distribution and activities rooms. We have held weekly English Language Socials where native and skilled English speakers join Iraqi learners for food, conversation and friendship. We are holding weekly Kids Art & Music Activities groups and Iraqi men meet here one night a week for an evening of playing dominoes (a favorite past-time when they lived in Iraq), drinking gowah (Turkish coffee) and laughs. Our new and improved Iraqi Women's Craft Co-op will begin meeting here this week. We have begun to set up a lending library. We offer Iraqis the opportunity to call relatives and friends who have been resettled to the USA and Canada for free through a nifty device that works through the internet. We will start taking family portraits soon so that they will have record of their children's growth during these years in exile when they cannot afford a studio portrait or even an inexpensive camera. And, of course, we continue to visit families and to provide them with what critically needed assistance we can.

I had hoped to "catch up" with detailed reports of all of these things but that's too formidable a task that is impossible to carry out because the current demands of each day just will not allow it. Instead, I will jump back in and post these reports as I can - hopefully more frequently. Here goes!

A Family in Immediate Need 

I met Hussen the first time two days ago when we were visiting another family and asked them if they knew of anyone needing a hospital bed that was given to us by a local donor. They told me that a neighbor (Hussen) has cancer and was hoping to have surgery soon and would need the bed in his home during his recovery period. Hussen was called and he came to the home we were visiting so that we could ask him directly if he wanted the bed.

Hussen's cancer is in his larynx and the tumors must be quite large as, when he entered his neighbor's flat, I could see that his neck area is very distended. He told us that he had been trying very hard to find funding to get the tumors removed and that through several local NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and a wealthy Iraqi donor, he only needed $5000 more to be able to have his surgery. $5000 to a family who cannot pay the rent or buy food might as well be a million dollars. We told him that we would see if there were any options and that we wanted to visit him and his family very soon. He told us that he did want the hospital bed.

We delivered the bed, several mattresses and a sofa (all from the same donor) to them night before last. When we entered their flat, we saw that they had nothing other than a couple of mats on the floor and a small tv ( note: most flats here are rented as "furnished" - and because satellite tv is free, you will see televisions in many Iraqi homes but this does not indicate any affluence, they are included in the "furnishings") The children (all adorable as you can see) were playing with some broken toys. We quickly dropped off the donated items and promised to visit the next evening.

We brought gifts of toys for the children: crayons and paint sets with art pads, an inexpensive transistor radio for the eldest boy, Abdullah (age 10), games, action figures, and dolls with "dress up" jewelry for the only girl, Ruqaya (age 6) For the youngest, a bouncing ball. We also had light-up magic wands for all four of the kids.

             We gave their parent's more practical gifts - household cleaning supplies, some nice plates and sets of cups, and a new shirt for Hussen (all donated by local donors)

They told us how they had fled Iraq late in 2009 after Hussen's life was threatened because he worked as a security guard for the office of the UN in their area of Iraq. He knew this was a serious threat after his supervisor was murdered by the same militia. His wife's uncle was also murdered by them.

Before that, the militia had thrown a hand grenade into their home and the blast caused acoustic trauma to their eldest boy, then only 5 years old. For a while, he suffered from epilepsy but now that symptom has faded. However he still carries the trauma with him; he wakes frequently in the night, screaming, crying and ripping apart his bed clothes.

We share joy with the family that funding for the remainder of the cost of Hussen's cancer surgery has been found and he will go on Thursday to schedule for it. Even though this is a huge relief for this family, there is another concern -- Amani (his wife) is 9 months pregnant and due to deliver any time. She is bound to give birth while her husband is in the hospital (he is expected to have an extended stay of 15 days).

As if this family is not under enough pressure, they have absolutely no income. They had only $900 with them when they arrived in Jordan. Although they were frugal, that money ran out long ago. They were interviewed for eligibility for the small cash assistant grant from UNHCR in January but they still do not receive it.

They rely completely on charity and the goodness of their impoverished neighbors to survive. Last month CARE organization paid their rent. They have no idea how they can pay June's rent or even food. They have a few baby clothes ready for the new arrival but lack diapers or any type of bed to put her in.

CRP funding has dwindled dangerously so we could not, as we would have last year when funds were more abundant, pay their rent ($140) and get what they need for their baby.

All I could offer to do is to contact UNHCR and hope to urge them to expedite giving the family the cash assistance grant. I also told them that I would ask you for your help.

In response  to my contacting UNHCR we learned that the family will get the cash assistance at the END of June. This means they desperately need our help NOW to pay their rent, buy food and some small items for the soon-to-arrive new baby.
Please consider donating. We would like to provide this family with:

$140 to pay June rent
staple foods for one month
an inexpensive bassinet and diapers

Only $250 would pay for all of these things and give this family some security during this exceptionally trying time for them.

You can find out how to give here: