It’s Saturday night in Jordan. A perfect time for a cup of tea and letter-writing. I have many things to tell you. Where should I begin?
- Success. We’ve submitted 24 cases to the Canadian government over the last year and a half. Canada has approved all our cases. We’ve provided protection to 77 people from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, the DRC, Iran, Afghanistan, and Cameroon. This is a beginning. We have many more cases. The good news is momentum is in our favor.
- Philosophy. Some of us don’t care for the word resettlement. It feels passive, like moving luggage. We prefer the word accompaniment. This involves walking with someone on their journey of recovery. It involves carrying things (suitcases, worries, or anything a survivor is struggling with). It involves letting go of things (false assumptions, self-importance).
- Dreams. One of the most rewarding aspects of accompaniment involves helping people reclaim the identity they had before they fled their country. In our program we have cheesemakers, tailors, carpenters, nurses, chefs, truck drivers, beauticians, entrepreneurs, artists, and athletes. Did you know that helping a cheesemaker return to cheesemaking is a kind of trauma recovery? Our teams want to know what makes a person’s heartbeat fast. Then, we want to provide every chance for them to reconnect with what excites them. We’re doing this through our dreams program. We’re always on the look-out for mentors and supporters. Do you want to be part of our dream team?
- Children. Last month I interviewed a father who fled his country to escape death. He left 6 children behind. I don’t know how to describe his despair – haunting, impenetrable, deep blue pain. His only dream was to be with his kids again. We represent a half dozen mothers in similar circumstances, forced to leave their children in the care of a pastor or sister or neighbor. Their pain runs across the world to their children. We’re filing cases to ease this river of pain, one parent at a time.
- Running. In January we decided that we needed to implement some self-care strategies in our program, so we launched the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder Running Team. Anyone can join – survivors, allies, donors, team members, friends, and family. The idea is to run races wherever we are in the world and share our triumphs with other team members. Yesterday the Jordan team ran a 10k under a full moon in Wadi Rum. (Photo attached) Deep sand, headlamps for light. It was no joke. Do you want to be on the running team? Most races are on asphalt, not in sand. I promise.
- Team. We’ve grown a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. We have 24 full-time team members in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Did I tell you that we have a Circassian horseman with us? His name is Saeed and he’s also our athletic coach. He ran in the sand with us last night. (I think he was looking for his horse by the end of the race). Our goal is for him to one day provide equestrian therapy to survivors who are beginning new lives in Canada. Do you know anyone involved in this healing field?
I could write a lot more, but my teacup is empty, and this letter is becoming long. I’ll close with a story. We have a child in our program who has been fighting cancer since he was 6-years old. We first started representing him back in 2017. There were no pathways for protection then, so we’ve been providing medical accompaniment in Jordan. He has had 4 recurrences of cancer in 5 years. He’s now 12. Two weeks ago, Canada finally approved his case. A team of 9 doctors were on standby for him when his plane landed last week. They said he should go straight from the airport to the hospital for an evaluation. I asked him how he felt about this. He said, “I want to meet my new doctors. Maybe they will cure me.” So, he and his mom spent their first week in Canada having scans and tests at the Hospital for Sick Children. He will have care from the finest pediatric oncologists and specialists in the country. He will have a home health nurse, something he never had in Jordan. Most of all, he will have hope.
With gratitude and friendship,
Image: A view of Zaatari refugee camp. Zaatari located in north Jordan close to the border Syria. Shutterstock/Richard Juilliart