"Refugee,” what comes to mind? I’m sure many people try not to even think about it, but refugees are innocent people who are caught up in the violence and horror of war and occupation and find they must flee in order to survive. Many Iraqi refugees are people who made up the middle and upper classes of Iraqi society. In our English classes we have civil engineers, economists, police officers and other professionals who are now languishing in Amman without being able to work. One man in the advanced English class has been approved for resettlement and will be emigrating to Massachusetts, where his sponsors are waiting to help him to start a new life. A goldsmith, he hopes to work as a jeweler once he is in the US.
But the rest wait in agonizing limbo for word on resettlement -- unemployed and with little to fill their days that stretch into months or even years -- while knowing that very few are accepted for resettlement and that the long wait may well end in shattering their hopes.
For the refugees remaining in Amman, we need to continue to assist them. Because many are still waiting for a determination from UNHCR on their status, they do not yet receive cash assistance and are forced to rely on friends and relatives to survive. Some run up large credit accounts in their neighborhood food markets in order to be able to eat. We normally help these families with food, rent and utility payments, but we’re not able to do anything for them now because we have no cash for this purpose. It is crucial to help these families because unless their bills are paid, the head of the family can be put in jail for nonpayment. Children will see their fathers arrested and taken away, and wives will be left alone to struggle to keep the rest of the family together.
We need to remember these are our fellow human beings – they’re people just like us, except that their society has been destroyed and they have literally fled for their lives, in hopes that they might be able to make a new life. The limbo of waiting for refugee status is incredibly stressful – imagine yourself in such a situation. You’re in another country, you have no money, you are waiting for months to find out what is going to happen with your application for resettlement, you have a family to take care of….imagine it. And you can’t go back where you lived before, because either your home is gone or you will be killed if you return. Try to imagine the stress, the fear of the unknown, compounded by the traumatic experience of living through a war. Imagine your life falling apart, only to be replaced by uncertainty, poverty and isolation.
CRP is trying to help our fellow human beings, but in order to do it effectively, we need your participation and help. Can you please take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of an Iraqi refugee and imagine the hardship so many of them endure every day? And then please think of what CRP does – we provide emergency assistance for living expenses, food, medication and other necessities. We provide heaters and fans, winter coats for kids, but we also provide something else equally important. We provide support for the Iraqi refugee community by giving them a place where they can come for the non-tangibles they also need. The men’s Dominoes Night, the Hope Workshop (a co-op where Iraqi refugee women create beautiful items to sell), the English and art classes, are only some of the things we offer to the community, again, with your help. It is crucial that we be able to again provide cash assistance to needy families, and to continue to offer programs to strengthen the community in Amman.
No donation is too small. Imagine yourself, one more time….imagine giving a donation to help us help Iraqi refugees, and imagine how good it feels knowing you have made a difference in someone’s life.