Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Today we went to visit a family who has been in Amman since January, 2010 and has not received any  financial assistance from UNHCR. They have had no money to pay their rent or to feed their kids. Bilal, age 28, and his wife Amira, age 21, have two little boys, ages 18 months and 3 years. When they had to flee Iraq and come to Jordan, the younger child was a newborn. We visited for a happy reason – one of our very generous donors has pledged to send $250 a month to support this young family, and we were happy to deliver the first month’s donation.

The family lives in a tiny, run-down and shabby flat which is nothing more than a small room with a bathroom lacking a tub or shower, and a tiny kitchen, but now they can pay their rent, get good food for themselves and their two little boys, and insulin for Bilal’s diabetes.  My heart almost burst inside my chest when I saw their faces as Ghazwan presented them with the donation that is literally a lifesaver.  We sat on the floor during our visit because they have no furniture.  Both Bilal and Amira had new hope in their eyes.  They can now see a good future for themselves and their boys because someone cares.
Most  families who have arrived in Amman since 2010 usually have had to endure a long waiting process while they’re assessed for refugee status.  This is a new development; they won’t receive cash assistance unless they are classified as refugees.  This family has been waiting for almost a year and a half.  How were the supposed to survive during this wait?  We’ve helped these families in the past by giving them emergency cash, but because our donations have slowed to a trickle, we’ve been unable to help any families for the past two months.. When we couldn’t help they were forced to rely on their equally poor neighbors for food, and there were days when the family literally had nothing to eat at all.  Bilal and his family are very, very fortunate to have a generous donor take an interest in them and offer to give them the help they need so desperately.
When you know someone cares about you, your whole life looks different.  You have the strength to go on, the ability to feel hope again.  One minute it can feel as if there is no reason to get up in the morning, and the next, it can feel as if life is full of miracles.  I saw this transformation today.  When I first met Bilal a few weeks ago, his whole being conveyed his worry and fear.  Today, he was a new man – smiling, laughing, and he said, “now I can relax.”  He asked us about a million times to thank the person who has pledged to help his family.
It’s a lesson for all of us, really – to put ourselves in our brother’s shoes and feel his pain, then reach out and help – and then watch the transformation.  It’s beautiful.  You can transform a family’s life, too.

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