It’s a beautiful day here in Amman. The birds are singing outside the window as I write, the sun is streaming in, and cars are quietly passing in the street. Tranquil, peaceful, so hard to imagine that the world around me is enmeshed in violence and strife.
No wonder, then, that it’s so hard for people to remember the ongoing tragedy that is Iraq. Not only are most of us soothed by our peaceful surroundings, but we’re also continually being bombarded with new stories of horror and tragedy from all over the world. We can feel overwhelmed by this, and our natural reaction is to shut it all out and tell ourselves that there is nothing we can do.
It is Easter weekend. Although I am not a Christian, I do know the meaning of Easter; through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all of mankind is saved from darkness. This is a beautiful story, one of hope and renewal, and as we watch our kids tear into their Easter baskets, attend religious services to celebrate this joyful day, and join our families in a traditional Easter dinner, we may not stop for a moment and remember those who are the “collateral damage” resulting from the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
Iraqis are still fleeing for their lives, and many times they find themselves in harsh circumstances once they arrive in Amman. The waiting period for cash assistance from the UN can be many months, and not all Iraqis receive it. Returning to Iraq is out of the question for them – they either have no homes to return to, or to go back can mean death. So they languish in Amman, relying on neighbors and relatives to help support them, but their lives are harsh. For many Iraqis, they find themselves in grinding poverty and uncertainty, forced to buy a little food on credit, living in hovels with no heat, and many families live in single rooms where they sleep on a cold floor. Unable to work legally in Jordan, some risk jail and deportation by taking menial jobs, but many more sit in hopelessness and impoverishment. Domestic violence can rear its ugly head, a manifestation of despair and a loss of self amid the continuing turmoil of life as a refugee. Some Iraqis have, or develop, medical conditions for which they cannot obtain necessary medications. The list of challenges they face as refugees goes on and on.
We at CRP are working every day to make the situation better for Iraqi families in Amman. We help in many ways, including cash assistance to those need emergency help. Unfortunately, our donations have slowed to a trickle, and we have not been able to provide this vital help. Because of this, some Iraqi families are at risk of homelessness. Another risk is imprisonment of Iraqi husbands because of nonpayment of debt.
On this Easter Sunday, while we are enjoying the day with family and friends, please take a moment to remember the ongoing tragedy of Iraq and its refugees. A donation of even a small amount goes a long way in helping us to help Iraqi refugees. The story of hope and renewal that is Easter can be lived every day through caring and giving. Happy Easter! ~ Mary Shephard
When There's No Other Way, There's You