Interviewing Iraqi men (refugees)
Aug 27

Today I began my "official" task with Collateral Repair Project (CRP):  interviewing Iraqi men (asylum seekers now living in Jordan) in order to present their stories to potential American donors.

I interviewed two men, in both cases with their families present.  And both families have been the recipients of "micro projects" from CRP--see

(This isn't a fund-raising blog, but you might consider donating; every buck you spend there is put to effective use, sans bureaucracy)

Why did I interview just the men?  Because Sasha and Mary, the co-directors of CRP, have discovered that men in this culture are often not as open as they might be when talking to foreign women.  The hope is that in relating to another man they will tell their full story--the emotional elements as well as the factual.

Fakher Abed and family

I met first with Fakher, here with daughter Shukran.  In our two-hour session he spun a long tale of threats and attacks from Sunni militia directed at him as a Shia.  He was shot at, had his home burned, fled to another city for a year to protect his family, watched as fellow Iraqi workers at an American base were shot by the militias, was told by the Sunni “you are a nigger, and you must leave the area, or we will kill you.” 

Fakher, like all Iraqi refugees in Jordan, cannot legally work in the Jordanian economy.  If they do work, and get caught, they may be imprisoned and sent back to Iraq--a move they profoundly fear.

The family, with Ghzwan and me




None of these kids is in school.  They've missed a whole year now, after going to a special school run by "Rescue the Child" for one year (the funding ran out)




Shukran                                  Halaa                    Sayf             Mohsen

No comment needed.  I luuuv this photo.

Isn't it intolerable that a bright-eyed kid like Mohsen should have no assured secure and stable future?  

No money for school fees now, no prospect at all of college, can't legally work, can't go back to Iraq, U.S. won't allow him in.


The modest sleeping quarters
In spite of having a tough time making ends meet, and an uncertain future, the pride in their home was evident even in the sparse surroundings of the kitchen

And they invited Ghzwan and me to return for dinner in a few days.  I was somewhat reluctant to accept, given their household's economy, but Ghzwan assures me of the appropriateness of bringing a gift of cash.

As you can see in this Notice of Ineligibility for Resettlement, Fakher was turned down.  Item 3 was checked; it reads "Protected Characteristic:  You did not establish that the persecution or fear of future persecution was on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinions."

Given his account of fear, threats, attacks, and intimidation, you have to ask, My god, what does it take?

Khaled Al-Badery and family

During our interview I asked Khaled what the future looked like for him.  His one-word answer:  Darkness

He's unable to work, his children are not in school, his daughter was born with an incredibly disfigured face and in need of $42,000 more surgery.

So why are they all smiling (as were Fakher and family)?  The indomitable human spirit, I guess.  These refugees face challenges that are totally foreign--both in scope and in quality--to most of us comfortable Americans.

Hanan Tana, the mother, received a beauty salon setup in a micro project from CRP.  This enables her to earn a modest amount of money, taking both Iraqi and Jordanian women.

Since the first gulf war in 1991 I have known of the horrendous damage and misery caused by the use of uranium munitions (Depleted Uranium, to use the popular term).  But to see it first hand is another matter.  Believe me.
This is how Eyman started out in life



After two trips to America for surgery, this is her present condition.  She stays all day in the home, has no friends, is shunned by fellow teenagers because of her face, and needs three more operations of $14,000 each

But she has a wonderful spirit, and is a lovely human being.  

Eyman was born in Basra, Iraq, just after the first gulf war.  (Remember the slaughter of fleeing Iraqi troops by American planes?)  Basra was, according to Robert Fisk of The Independent,  "drenched in depleted uranium dust", and has had soaring rates of birth defects, leukemia, and cancers.  Check out his account here:



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