Adopt refugees, children, & families fleeing war to make worlds of difference
By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota
Rather than focusing on simply raising awareness on the pain and suffering of persons displaced by war, why not take one step further? What if families across Minnesota were encouraged to adopt refugees and displaced persons from around the world as their own?
Look around the Twin Cities and you will find highway billboards with pictures featuring sad-looking dogs. An appeal is made to the inner humanitarian in us all to act on an injustice. The world is becoming an inferno with no end to the madness. In Syria, Aleppo was recently recaptured by forces loyal to a tyrannical war criminal, yet we continue to stand idle as atrocities unfold on our newsfeeds. Women, children, and the elderly made a last chance escape out of Aleppo hoping to find sanctuary in neighboring Turkey. The sad truth is that a great deal of Syrian civilians will never make it to safe ground under an unrelenting clout of civil war. Here is a proposition we should all consider, what if those highway billboard signs began featuring the tearful faces of Syrian children in addition to other war-battered peoples? On the surface, the main idea would be directed toward raising awareness generally.
Nowadays, it is all too easy to block out a world of sad, but inconvenient truths. We have the ability to remove, block out, and unsubscribe from trends that are unsettling to us. That is nothing but selective attention which desensitizes us to a reality of ominous truths. Rather than focusing on simply raising awareness on the pain and suffering of persons displaced by war, why not take one step further? What if families across Minnesota were encouraged to adopt refugees and displaced persons from around the world as their own? Does such a proposition carry too much controversial baggage? It is all too sensible to argue that human lives are invaluable; therefore, society should mirror that all too universal standard. There are many different ways to adopt refugees and displaced persons fleeing war zones. There is the traditional method of direct adoption; this is where one child or family is brought into the United States through programs of state-sanctioned sponsorship.
That is usually facilitated under refugee inclusion programs; a great deal of which demand amnesty under an alias of asylum. On the other hand, there are alternatives online that offer sponsors the ability to adopt through programs of contributory charity. The cost of sponsoring one displaced child or family is about just as much or less than a monthly utility bill. That example is however approximated arbitrarily to trends of general consumerism. Nonetheless, adoption carries a great deal of misconceptions. People have this idea that once they adopt, there is no escape. It is felt that once someone adopts, the adoptee will shadow their lives indefinitely. A few years ago, I adopted a kindergarten aged child through World Vision. The total cost of adoption was about thirty dollars a month without any stipulation of long term commitment. Financial situations change and when pressed for rent and groceries, life priorities begin to kick in.
Believe it or not, organizations that facilitate refugee sponsorship programs are quite flexible. Once a contributor withdraws their support, there is no army of cold callers waiting to blow up your phone. It all comes down to how much you want to contribute in the name of a good cause. Unfortunately, there are many scam artists out there, but a little shrewd vigilance will go a long way in separating legitimate alternatives from the fake. There will never be a shortage of poor and displaced people on Earth. The work is endless and beyond analogies of fulfillment. A year after sponsorship, the greatest memory instilled in my mind was a simple letter I received from that kindergarten aged child. The letter contained a brochure like worksheet that demonstrated skills learned at the child’s public school. In particular, there was a question and answer section where an interviewer asked the child for answers to each question. I discovered that young Salume enjoyed counting and coloring. In particular, she enjoyed singing with friends during her long walks to school. There is something humanizing about that. I feel that small worksheet like brochure is something I will keep for life.
It chronicles the earliest stages of a child’s intellectual development. To know that I contributed something to a child’s intellectual foundation in an underdeveloped area of the world is a humanizing experience. The sponsorship of children and refugees globally opens doors of intercultural dialogue. We begin to realize that people around the world are just like us with similar hopes and aspirations for the future. We live in an age defined by the instantaneity of facts. An atrocity is no longer some abstract caricature of human suffering in some far off land. Something can be done and it all begins with a few keystrokes followed by even fewer clicks.
Omar Alansari-Kreger, of Minneapolis, is a Muslim-American, a writer, and a social activist.
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