11 April

Why Are We Here? Shkrullah And Ali. Reaching Out To The Refugees In Our Midst

by Jon Katz
Reaching Out To The Refugees

In many ways, Ali is a spirit person. He is all about love and honor. The children at RISSE adore him, he is technically a van driver, he takes the children to and from RISSE and their homes and their public schools. Children line up to hug him and talk to him, he is a father, a teacher, a coach and a friend.

He knows why he was put on the earth – to do good for children, and he reminds me why I was put on the earth, although it took me a long time to figure out what Ali, in his early 30s, already knows.

Shkrullah is  from Afghanistan, and his story is too awful and too dangerous for me to share. It would break your heart.

He is, in a sense, why i am here also, although my work is more indirect and in the background than Ali’s. He has a big body and a big and inexhaustible heart.

These are good people, deserving of support and encouragement, not hatred, taunting and demonization. These are not rapists or terrorists, they are people just like us, caught in a  terrible whirlwind. I am her to help them, just as Ali has devoted his life to helping these children.

I could not survive a day doing what he does. I am here to do good, that is my faith, that is my challenge and promise. This realization was born out of the cruel and angry times in which we live, the refugees, long the beneficiaries of American generosity and openness, are alone now, on their own.

Many people in our country no longer wish to keep this American dream alive, to me it is the most patriotic thing I could possible be supporting.

In part, this is why I am here, to do this work. The need is very great, this is the work of the heart and soul.

I cannot, of course, do it alone. A great army of simple and good people has risen up to support this work, they call themselves the Army Of Good. If you wish to support this work, you can do so by sending a contribution to The Gus Fund, c/o Jon Katz. P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816 or via Paypal, jon@bedlamfarm.com.

And please consider supporting the new Tutoring Fund, we are seeking a few hundred dollars to pay for private English language tutoring for six members of the RISSE soccer team, all relatively new to America, and in need of one-on-one teaching help. We are talking to graduate college students who will work for free or for $10 an hour.

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