Community members dedicated to the Adopt-a-Refugee Family Program
By Monique Mansour
According to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, 28,300 people a day are forced to flee their homes because of war, conflict, persecution and discrimination based on a variety of factors, including race and religion. On a global scale, there are 65.6 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced. To date, the world is facing the highest numbers of displaced people on record. Those who flee their country of origin and enter into another nation face a multitude of obstacles because of their refugee and undocumented status. Finding stable employment that pays a living wage is oftentimes out of reach, as is finding safe and secure housing to raise a family in.
Statistics such as these are discouraging, daunting, and overwhelming. So many people need assistance that it’s often hard to decipher where to begin to solve this massively complex problem. Thankfully, there are Chaldeans in the community who are working to lower these numbers by making a positive impact on the lives of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people.
The Adopt-a-Refugee-Family program began with Basil Bacall’s vision to aid Christian refugees from war-torn Iraq in 2007. Karl Senawi, an Iraqi-born American who now calls West Bloomfield home, helped to reignite the program six years ago and since then, the organization has grown and expanded to help families in dire need of assistance. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Adopt-a-Refugee-Family program go directly to families in need.
Each year, since 2009, the non-profit has hosted an annual golf outing in an effort to raise funds for the program and to inform others of the crisis plaguing people in the Middle East. The most recent outing took place on July 26th at Shenandoah Country Club. This year, the outing raised $47,600 –the highest amount thus far for the annual event – and many young members of the Chaldean community stepped in to help out.
One individual felt particularly compelled to take action. Haley Denha, a rising senior at Marian High School, netted $1,388 by asking friends, family, and local members of her community to contribute.
Chris Toma of Commerce Township, a passionate volunteer for the Adopt-a-Refugee-Family program, was inspired by Denha’s efforts. “We need more young people in our Chaldean community to donate and get involved with the Adopt-a-Refugee-Family program. They hold the power to impact an entire family living in another part of the world dealing with unthinkable circumstances. These are our people and American-born Chaldeans like Haley can make a huge difference.”
All the raffle winners at the outing donated back their prize money to the organization. Michael K. Jonna of West Bloomfield, an impassioned volunteer for the program was touched by this gesture. “It was an incredible sight to see. On behalf of Chris Toma, Karl Senawi, and myself, we would like to thank all of our sponsors who participated in this year’s golf outing as well as the attendees who came out to support this great cause.”
“The more people we have like Rafed Yaldo, Basil, Chris, and Karl supporting the Adopt-a-Refugee-Family program the more successful and impactful it will be,” said Jonna. “The time they dedicate to the program and the donations they put forth mean so much to so many people who need our help.”
October 5th, 2017 is a special date for the organization. It marks ten years since the program began and, as a result, volunteers of the nonprofit are hosting a ten-year anniversary party at Shenandoah Country Club. The event will include cocktails, music, and speeches. The goal is to raise $250,000 so that 208 families can benefit from the funds.
“Christianity will cease to exist in the Middle East if we don’t support this cause. These people are family to us, even if we’ve never met them,” said Senawi. “We must always remember that.”
If you’d like to attend the ten-year anniversary party, please visit www.adoptarefugeefamily.org to purchase tickets and learn more about the event. At the party, individuals can pledge to adopt a family by donating $100 a month, or $1,200 a year to support families in dire need. Individuals who are unable to attend the event can contribute an amount of any kind at any time on the organization’s website. Together, in support and solidarity, a brighter future can be created –one family at a time.