Adopt-a-Refugee Family chairman Basil Bacall took trips to Jordan and Syria to spread the word of the Adopt-a-Refugee Family program. Here is his firsthand account of his goals during the trips, as well as issues he uncovered, and finally, photo galleries.
I was able to accomplish all goals set forth before the trip and they are as follows:
- See firsthand the refugee situation in Jordan and Syria and how the program is working.
The situation is much worse than I thought. However, I was very pleased with how the program is working after visiting random families We are making a difference in people’s lives.
- Establish the program in Syria.
That has been done with the help of Bishop Audo and Fr. Tony from Aleppo Fr. Michael and Firas Zebarri (Christian Iraqi) got the program established in Damascus
- Conduct video interviews and take pictures with the refugees to help promote the program back in the U.S.
I have conducted over 10 taped interviews and took over 350 pictures in both Syria and Jordan .
- Additional task:
After meeting with so many different refugees, I learned that there is high level of discrimination at UNHCR at the early stages of the review process against the Christian Refugees in Jordan and to a certain extent in Syria So many cases deserve to be expedited and granted refugee status to the US Even though I heard accusations of discrimination in Jordan from so many refugees, I did not fully believe them until I read a report by Mr. Kenneth Timmerman. During his fact finding mission to Jordan with Governor Beasly these claims were confirmed while visiting the Iraqi refugees I have also conducted four different taped interviews to prove this and collected documentation to support their claims.
In addition, I feel our community has a much bigger role to play in addressing this crisis We as a community so far have not lived up to its responsibilities as Chaldeans and Christians of the same country, and the same church.
The three biggest issues I identified were the following:
- Poverty, which has resulted in:
a) Abuse – physical and sexual
b) Unsanitary Living Conditions
d) Inhumane Treatment
- Logical safe haven – where the refugees could work, go to school and build a life whether in the US or other countries.
- The need for much stronger Church presence, as many of our people are hungry spiritually as well as physically. And we are losing many people to different faiths including Islam involuntarily.
Immediate action that needs to be taken in order to help:
- We need to work with the CFA and any other organizations that can help the refugee situation to locate countries like the US that will accept them. It is not right to ask our people to stay in Iraq or anywhere in the Middle East while paying such a heavy price with everything they own and I mean everything! Especially when there is no light at the end of the tunnel The future for Christianity in Iraq and the Middle East looks dim at best.
- Supporting any program to help ease their suffering like the “Adopt a Refugee Family”.
- Apply as much pressure as possible on all political leaders to help the plight of the refugees.
- The CFA should work with people like Kenneth Timmerman, Governor Beasley, and other organizations or media groups to help promote our cause as long as there are no strings attached whether political or religious The CFA should not be afraid to speak out on any issues or matters that are not handled properly thru the correct channels. We should not be afraid to criticize the UNHCR or any group that is discriminating against our people.
- It would be beneficial if the CFA would have a small office and committee in both Syria and Jordan that works directly under the CFA in Michigan. This office needs to serve as a coordination center between the CFA, UNHCR and American Embassy Another option would be to partner with a well respected Catholic organization in the area that would work under the CFA’s leadership In addition, we need to work with our church leaders and ask them for their continued help, support and most of all their prayers.
I was told by many refugees the only hope they have is God and the Chaldean Federation to help them out of their crisis Faith is all they have!
Photos from the Jordan trip:
Photos from the Syria trip: