Organized by: Jess Herndon
Event Name: Welcome Home
I saw this story on one of my favorite sites, Humans of New York, and it moved me to tears. If we don’t welcome people like this into our communities and rally support to help them, then we’re not the country we tell ourselves we are. Let’s reject the 'anti-human’ voices that tell us to fear refugees and show this family what Americans are really made of.
Everything we raise here will go directly to this family to help them re-settle in America, make a new stable life as our neighbors, and…as the Doctor beautifully expresses…contribute their talents to world.
Thanks to Humans of New York for sharing these stories. Thanks to the team at CrowdRise for putting this together and figuring out how to get even the credit card transaction fees covered so we can get the maximum to the family.
Thanks to everyone who rallies together to create the power of the crowd. If enough of us kick in the price of two frappucinos, we can probably transform the experience of this family that needs the world to deliver something other than heartbreak.
“I was the only doctor in the area, so when ISIS captured our town, I knew that they would ask me to work for them. We should have left right away. One night five men came to our house. They were wearing masks and they refused to take off their shoes. Their Arabic was not with a Syrian accent. They claimed to be searching for weapons and went from room to room. They knew about me already, because they kept calling me ‘Doctor.’ When they finished searching the house, they arrested my husband. It was a night in January, so it was too cold for them to start their car. The engine kept turning over and over. I thought that maybe a miracle would keep them from taking him. But then I heard the engine start and they drove away. I paced in the street all night. At one point I heard a gunshot in the distance, and I thought for sure they had killed him. I thought it was all my fault. We should have left right away.”
“ISIS needs educated people to support them. None of them finished school. They cannot manage the cities they capture because they have no skills. When they took me to prison, at first they were very aggressive. They kept putting a gun to my head and taking it away. But after a few minutes of this, one of the men began speaking to me in a very nice way. He said: ‘You are an Islamic man. Please, be a good Muslim and help us. We want your wife to open a hospital for us. And we want you to manage it.’ I agreed to everything they asked. I told them I would help. Then the moment they let me go home, we packed our bags and left.”
“We’ve been waiting for two years now. We've been through all our interviews. Last week this letter came and said that we’ve been ‘deferred.’ I’m not even sure what that means. We were very truthful about everything. We have nothing left in Syria. I want to continue working as a doctor in America. Here my hands are tied. Refugees are not allowed to work. I don’t have papers. I can’t communicate with anyone. I worked my entire life to become a doctor. I did nothing but study for six years. I didn’t even have a hobby. Now I’m doing nothing. I’m losing hope. I’ve started to wonder if it would have been better for us to go the illegal way across the sea."
Editor’s Note: The whole purpose of my trip to Turkey and Jordan was to interview refugees who had been approved for American resettlement. So when this couple showed me the letter saying they’d been ‘deferred,’ I was a bit confused. But I continued the interview anyway. As I learned the rest of the couple’s story, I noticed my UNHCR facilitator typing on her phone. After a few minutes, she came over to me and showed me the screen. It was a text message from the main office. It said: ‘They’ve been approved. Would you care to tell them?’ So it was my great honor to inform this couple that they were going to America. This portrait was taken thirty seconds after they learned the news.