Saturday, October 23, 2010

Connecting with old friends

This is Dar al-Wefaq. The women's shelter I taught in during the summer and the home to some incredible women.
This week, I got a friend request on Facebook from someone I thought was a stranger. Since Jordan, I have become accustomed to receiving odd friend requests from random Arabs. Fact: Arabs are the most interesting FB friends. They love to chat randomly and they love posting odd quizzes and gifts from games on their friend's wall. After awhile I stopped adding the random people who had found me on Facebook But this new request was different from the others.

The request was from an Iraqi refugee whom I had worked with while volunteering at the women's shelter she was staying at. I had a group of 4 Iraqi women at the shelter who treated me like I was one of their own. These four women were different from the other beneficiaries at the shelter because they were the longterm residents. All of them were waiting to be moved by the UNHCR to America or any country where they could start their lives over again. Daily life at Dar al Wefaq is not easy. The women who live their have no means of educational resources or ways of passing their time productively. Last summer, I was there only source of entertainment and outside communication. The grief, pain, and hopelessness the women feel while biding their time plunges every one of them into deeper states of unhappiness. Dalia was different. She was always so apt to learn and to try the activities I planned. She was one of my most diligent English students because she very much wanted to live in the U.S. I could not believe it when she chatted with me on Facebook last night. After over 9 months of living in this shelter she finally made it to the U.S. She isn't too far from me either. She is living in her own apartment in Arizona. She is incredible but I can't imagine how hard the transition has been on her. She has no job as of recently but I am sure their are organizations helping her with job placement.

A few weeks ago, I went to Salt Lake to go to a refugee mentor orientation. The exposure and experience I had with Iraqi refugees made me want to help them while in my own country. Unfortunately, I couldn't volunteer this semester because of schedule conflicts but hopefully my school schedule will not bear me down too much next semester. When I went to the IRC offices, I was overwhelmed with memories and feelings of awe towards the organizations our country has for refugees from all over the world. I just hope that maybe there will be a student or a volunteer who will help Dalia in her times of need. I can't imagine what it would be like to be so far away from your family and everything you know and just start over. She is an amzing woman and I am so happy she was able to find me. We have each other's number so I hope to stay close to this person who cared for me while I was in a foreign and sometimes scary place.


  1. I love this post for so many reasons. Also I don't think that it's coincidental that I just barely emailed the IRC's Salt Lake division 4 minutes ago offering my help. For real.

    I kind of think we're the same person...except you've actually accomplished incredible things. I sort of have a few ideas brewing for ORCA projects, but I just realized the deadline is tomorrow. F.

  2. Becca, that is amazing. You should totally volunteer with them. The IRC is an incredible group and they are always in need of Arabic speakers. An ORCA grant would be a great opportunity to get back to the Middle East too.You are a fantastic girl. Good luck with everything, baby.