Kimberly Andrews is a Registered Nurse and a member of Westlake Christian Church in Westlake, Ohio. Kim joined the medical and humanitarian mission organized by Salaam Cultural Museum located in Seattle, Washington. Salaam Cultural Museum is engaged in educational and humanitarian activities. The mission is to bring cultures and people together to build bridges of understanding, and to provide humanitarian aid to people affected by conflict and natural disaster. After her trip to Jordan to help with the medical needs of refugees from Syria, she shared this report.
That was the last text I received before getting on a flight, all alone, to Amman, Jordan: the destination of my first Mission Trip. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea how to feel. I quickly decided to adopt my Dad's text as a list of personal goals for the next two weeks. I also decided at that moment to say, "Yes" to every opportunity and experience that availed itself.
Be safe. Safety was never a concern for me. I found the people in Jordan very warm and inviting. The majority of Syrian Refugees we helped thanked us profusely for leaving our homes, families, and jobs to assist them. One particular gentleman said to me, "You are now my family because you left your family to come and help me, a stranger. Now we are no longer strangers." The conversation rarely became political. A few times I was asked to speak directly with President Obama about the situation in Syria and in the camps (still haven't managed that!) but I was always seen as a human being first and an American second.
Learn. While I was there, I immersed myself in the culture, the language, the people, and most of all their struggle. I was invited to dinner at a refugee's home-a tent-in the Zataari Camp. With her husband and four children, on a floor of cushions, we sat and ate pickled eggplant grown in her small garden. A fire pit was her oven, a cement storage area was her cupboard, and it was the best dining experience I had in Jordan.
Have fun. At first that sounded like a strange suggestion. This camp emerged from the slaughter of a civil war. Innocent, good, respectable people have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their country. How could I possibly have fun in such a miserable situation? But watching the refugee families inspired me. They spoke openly and eloquently about their losses but they never stopped living. Babies were being born, meals were being shared, gardens were being planted. People smiled, laughed, and had fun despite the conditions they were forced into. They still had hope. I was told, during my time in the camp, that visiting missionaries bring some of that hope; our presence shows that they have not been forgotten.
Proud Mama Partnership: Equal Exchange and The Women’s Empowerment Fund
As a celebration of our relationship with Equal Exchange and the vision of the Women’s Empowerment Fund, we are proud to announce a special promotion of Equal Exchange’s Proud Mama Coffee. From now until the end of 2014, for every pound of Proud Mama Coffee purchased through the Disciples Coffee Project, Equal Exchange will donate 15 cents to the Women’s Empowerment Fund.
The Women’s Empowerment Fund was launched by Week of Compassion at the 2010 Quadrennial. Rooted in the knowledge that economic and social development around the world, including in North America, depends on how we support and empower women, this fund supports the work of Week of Compassion partners to support the educational, entrepreneurial, and other aspirations of women all over the world.
For more about the Women’s Empowerment Fund, we invite you to view this video.
For weeks, news reports have brought the story of a record number of unaccompanied children migrating from Central to North America. The story of these children, many fleeing an uptick in violence in their communities as well as devastating poverty, has been met with much controversy. Week of Compassion has been working with its tireless partners such as CWS and Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries to support the pastoral needs of those seeking refugee status as they migrate north.
Sharon Stanley, Director of DHM’s Refugee and Immigration Ministries, has been a key player in keeping our congregations up to date on this complicated issue. For more information about the root causes of this migration of unaccompanied children, please visit RIM.
To support the needs of refugees from Syria, those impacted by the Women’s Empowerment Fund, or the children seeking safety at the U.S. Border, please consider a gift to Week of Compassion.
Rev. Brandon Gilvin
This Week’s Responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Mississippi, Tornado Relief
U.S./Mexican Border, Migrant Assistance
Virginia, Refugee Resettlement
Brazil, Flood Relief
Syria, Humanitarian Intervention (3)
Lebanon, Syrian Refugee Assistance
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy Recovery (2)
Egypt, Peace and Reconciliation Work