We had a great event on Sunday. We thank everyone who attended, our wonderful volunteers, the speakers, and Amal Sedky Winter, who stepped in at the last minute to take over as master of ceremonies when Judge Shadid let us know he was sick and could not make it. She did an amazing job of keeping things going. We also thank Hanna Eady for providing background music on his oud as people were arriving.
Congratulations to all the new US citizens, who received messages of congratulations and acknowledgement from Senators Murray and Cantwell, and Governor Inslee. They were also reminded that now they can participate in elections by voting and they can even run for office if they want!
We have images of the letters from the elected officials, photos from the event, and videos at the bottom. Again, thank you to all who attended, our speakers, and our supporters for making this happen, and our biggest congratulations to our newest US Citizens!
Two new Syrian families have just been resettled in Spokane, WA and need our help to get the essentials for their new homes. We have started Amazon Wish Lists for each of them.
The Al Hussin family has 4 children between the ages of 1 year and 10 years old, with 2 boys and 4 girls. The Al Zoubi family also has for children, but they are older: a 22, 21 19, and 15 year old daughters and a 17 and 9 year old sons. They have traveled a long way and have been waiting a long time to get to a place they can call home. We have included kitchen, bathroom, cleaning basics as well as bedding and a few toys/fun thigs for the kids. If you don’t see an item on the list it has likely already been purchased for them, but if you think of something that should be on the list, let me know and I will add it. Any items ordered from the lists will automatically be shipped to the respective family.
When the Arab Spring turned into civil war in Syria in 2012, SCM Medical Missions stepped up to help provide medical and humanitarian aid to the thousands of refugees fleeing across the border into Jordan. Since that time, we have evolved with the changing times and have gone from providing emergency medical care to more sustained assistance in Jordan and Lebanon, to helping refugees resettled in Washington state.
The refugees that came here with just a suitcase of clothes and maybe a few personal items have made new lives for themselves. Many have been able to find jobs in our tech industry or other growing industries or trades, children are attending and excelling in school, others have started their own businesses. SCM has been there to help make sure they don’t fall through the cracks, and we have been so proud of their many successes.
Now, we are going to celebrate another success: citizenship. Many of the resettled Syrian refugees have worked hard and gained their US citizenship and we want to showcase their achievement.
We invite you to help us celebrate and highlight the positive impact the refugees have had on Washington and Washingtonians. The event is October 9, 2022, at 3 pm at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle. We will have several presentations, Arabic sweets, tea and coffee, and time for people to mingle and have an opportunity to talk to the refugees.
Our program is still being worked out and we will add to it here as events are confirmed.
3:00 Welcome 3:10 Judge Damon Shadid – MC 3:20 Sarah Peterson, DSHS CHIEF / Washington Office of Refugee & Immigrant Assistance 3:30 Husni Al Jamali, new US Citizen 3:40 Elfatih Abdelnabi – Immigration Coordinator at IRC 3:50 Nour Al Mseift, new US Citizen 4:00 Rami Al-Kabra, Council Member/Deputy Mayor of Bothell 4:10 Shireen Al Nabelsi, new US Citizen 4:20 Rita Zawaideh, Director of SCM
Free time to mingle, meet our newest citizens
Event ends at 5:00pm
More about our esteemed MC, the Honorable Damon Shadid
Judge Damon Shadid joined the Seattle Municipal Court bench in January 2014, the first popularly elected judge of Middle Eastern descent in the State of Washington. Prior to being elected, Judge Shadid worked as a private practitioner in the areas of immigration and criminal defense, specializing in representing non-citizen defendants in criminal court. Judge Shadid’s practice has been varied over the years, practicing in the areas of criminal defense, immigration, civil liability, family law, and bankruptcy.
Before taking the bench, Judge Shadid was committed to serving the public through engagement with community groups including the Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable, the Racial Justice Report Card, and the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System. Since taking the bench, Judge Shadid has continued to serve the legal community including serving on the District and Municipal Judges’ Association Board of Directors, The Washington State Legal Financial Obligations Stakeholder Consortium, and engaging with school age children in educating about the criminal justice system.
The event will be held at St. Marks’s Episcopal Cathedral in the Bloedel Hall. The address is 1245 10th Ave E. Seattle WA 98102.
“After ten years, half of the Syrian population has been forced to flee their homes. (…) The gravity of this crisis must not weaken our solidarity for Syrians. On the contrary, we must redouble our collective effort to support both refugees and the communities hosting them. “
Filippo Grandi, UNHCR High Commissioner
Ten years ago, on July 28, 2012, the Za’atari Refugee Camp opened in Jordan to shelter the Syrians fleeing the war in their home country. At the time everyone thought it would be temporary. That was ten years ago. The camp now is on the top ten list of most populous cities in Jordan with 80,000 residents – just slightly less than the population of Aqaba. This is down from the all-time high of 156,000 in 2013 before a second camp opened in Zarqa to the east, but it is still a very large population of people living in poor conditions in the middle of an open semi-desert area. It is operated by the UN and has a number of other agencies and NGOs that help on a regular basis, but they are all stretched thin due to crises in other locations around the world.
The UNHCR has put out a call to all those currently working with the camp, and those, like SCM who have helped in the past but have had to move on to other emergencies, to step up in anyway they can to stop a rapidly deteriorating situation. SCM is going to answer this call with your help.
Za’atari has transformed into a medium sized city in Jordan with 1800 shops and businesses that employ 3600 refugees. The UNHCR also helps the refugees get work permits with an aim to reduce dependency on aid, but with the economic situation in Jordan, this is very difficult. The camp has 32 schools and over 55 community centers and provides basic medical services to the refugees. Each refugee family receives some assistance, and the economic activity in the camp spills out into the local area including the nearby city of Mafraq. The aid is being converted into mobile payments to make it easier for people to get and spend the aid, and even save a bit, especially if they have a job or operate a business in the camp. But for 80,000 people, it is not enough.
In 2013 the UNHCR began replacing the tents with caravans (portable buildings) that are essentially four walls, a floor and a roof. They might have a small sink, some shelving and a storage cabinet, and mattress pads for sitting and sleeping. The lifespan of the caravans is only 6-8 years, so the majority are in urgent need of repair. These shelters have become home to the Syrians, and they are trying to make the best of them, but the structures were not meant for long-term continued use.
The economic fallout of covid is also affecting the refugees, which are allowed work permits to get jobs in most sectors in Jordan, but the lack of job openings means many remain unemployed. They are forced to depend on dwindling assistance from the UN and other agencies to survive.
Water is another issue creating hardship for the refugees. Most refugees at the camp say the water they have access to is not enough to survive on. This is a problem intensified by water shortages from the Euphrates River and extreme heat in the region. Jordan gets some of its water from Israel, and some from the Euphrates River in Syria, which is dammed by Turkey, and access is sometimes used as a bargaining chip, or threat, depending on the issue.
The camp is powered by solar power, but the camp has grown beyond the original required output estimates of the power plant, leaving the residents of the camp electricity for 9-11 hours per day. Water storage tanks are inadequate to their needs and the delivery of water to the tanks needs to be increased, especially during the hot summer months.
SCM has a plan to help refugees living in Za’atari and our goal is $75,000 to do the following:
Provide more water tanks for more families
Help with the cost of filling those tanks on a regular basis
Provide funds and/or supplies to perform maintenance and repairs on caravans
Provide supplemental nutrition to make sure children are getting enough to stay healthy
Please donate today! Any amount helps – it could help buy a water tank or provide another week’s worth of water, or it could provide the supplies to repair a caravan with a crumbling roof or wall, or it could provide food for families that have to severely cut back.
Summer new arrival Refugees multiplied Saturday! 61 adults with many excited children from 40 families came for our special supplies and the heavy bag per family of more than 25 different hygiene supplies. We were amply ready for the total 160 refugees we served on their winding road.
A bumper crop of refurbished adult and kids bikes with new helmets and locks brought lots of joy. Seeing Afghan women and girls who can now ride energized our 9 Volunteers and 4 noon reinforcement helpers. So did the 20 laptop computers we gave in canvas satchels.
It was a 3-way tie for Best with our Sewing Station – 10 new, donated sewing machines, and several used machines meant we could almost meet the prize most Afghan women sought. With lots of generously donated bolts of fabric, scissors, spools of thread, needles and sewing notions, I could have hung out there to enjoy the masked smiles had I not been checking in so many lovely Refugee Brothers and Sisters! Thanks to our four Afghan Translators and big hearted Volunteers who made this day possible. Caring Fairwood UMC Volunteers and others join SCM Medical Missions to surpass the offerings each week with surprise furnishings placed outside for new arrivals: dishes, cookware, glasses, platters, house furnishings, linens, rugs, strollers, etc. Much needed and appreciated.
The other important service here is listening to the Refugees’ resettlement concerns and sharing recommendations. This wasn’t built into the Center’s plan, but it’s grown among all Volunteers to ease the Afghans’ burdens. Whether for job searching, transportation, health contacts, rent questions, or problems, Volunteers make visits and continue helping families after the Center closes. It’s reassuring that the Refugees can call kind locals with their concerns. Though Summer’s arrival will soon conclude our assistance of supplies, we hope our impact improves many days to come for many Refugees!
Photo is from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Yes, snow does fall in the Middle East, but as you can imagine, it has a terrible impact on the refugees in the region still living in tents and other temporary shelters. Heavy snow can crush tents and ruin a family’s possessions, and leave them without shelter in the frigid and wet conditions. This is particularly true of northwest Syria, where snow and heavy rains have caused flooding and damaged roads, water supplies, and shelters across the region.
SCM has a partner in Turkey that can get supplies to northwest Syria and we need your help to get these supplies – blankets, food, medicines, heating oil, etc. We also need to help those affected in Lebanon and Jordan. While snow is not uncommon in the mountainous regions of Lebanon, snow at the coast in towns like Byblos is very rare and disruptive, and they did receive snow there yesterday. Many people in the region are being affected by the cold, snow and rain. Please help us to help them!