Iraq's Refugees Ask: 'What Is Our Future?'

By Simone Campbell 02-25-2008

The Cost of War

I was in Lebanon and Syria in January and saw up close the agony of the war.

In Damascus, young Iraqi refugees have created a youth choir at the Good Shepherd Center. After singing for us, many came forward to tell us their stories. One young woman told us of fleeing with her father and disabled brother after being threatened in a town near Baghdad. The family thought it was most dangerous for the disabled child and thought that the 15-year-old daughter could act as a mother to him. Now they are worried because the mother and other children are in constant danger.

An 18-year-old spoke of coming with his mother, who has cancer. His father is still in Iraq and is working to support the mother and son in Syria. They are hoping to be able to relocate to a third country, but they have already been waiting over a year and his mother is getting sicker. He does not know what will happen to them.

The Iraqi chorus leader told us that they come together to try to learn from each others' suffering, both when they were in Iraq and now in Syria. He told us, "We smile, but inside our hearts we suffer in our own way. Jesus told us to love one another, but also we must ask what is next. What is our future? We want a solution to two problems-our having to leave AND the reason for leaving

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