Exodus 2015

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A Turkish gendarmerie carries the body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, who drowned along with his brother Galip, 5, and their mother in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, in the coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey, on Sept. 2, 2015
A Turkish gendarmerie carries the body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, who drowned along with his brother Galip, 5, and their mother in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, in the coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey, on Sept. 2, 2015

It was the program on the Mideast immigrant crisis at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren Tuesday evening that got me thinking about the Jabooris.

This family had three children. They belonged to the ethnic group known as the Kurds. For centuries, Kurds mostly lived in northern Iraq and throughout that region. But in the 1970s Saddam Hussein drove them into Iran. The Kurds soon scattered to other parts of the world.

Somehow, the Jaboori family found their way to Fort Wayne. Another Brethren Church I attended then adopted the family. Somehow, that family adopted my family. Or we adopted them.

The father managed to get a position as a physician’s assistant, though I’m sure he was overqualified. As the kids grew up, I believe all went off to medical school and became doctors.

It’s that part of the immigrant story you don’t often hear.

Obviously, the recent movement of thousands of people fleeing persecution and civil war in Syria and northern Africa has left behind countless tragedies – drownings, starvation and murder.

Some European countries closed borders. Others, notably Germany, opened theirs, at least to provide temporary housing. Slides the three advocates showed at Beacon Heights Tuesday told a confusing, jumbled and heartbreaking story.

There they were, moving in mass, crowded into buses and train cars, the elderly, mothers carrying infants, men and women in their 20s and 30s. They walked for miles on dusty roads. Faces turned down, others looking up, many sad, others it seemed hopeful.

This week Time magazine devoted its full issue to the immigrant crisis. But one story noted that European countries receiving these strangers likely will be enriched. Like my immigrant friends, many bring much needed skills and a willingness to work hard.

I found Time’s photos haunting and somehow personal. You wonder “How would I handle this?” Amid a civil war such as the one that’s engulfed Syria would I readily pick up a few belongings, pack a child on my back and set foot to another, unknown country?

In that new land, I probably wouldn’t speak the language. What skills would I offer for a job? At age 77 now, I can’t imagine the challenge. I’m not sure I would have been up to the challenge in my 40s or 50s.

For most of us, the challenge simply is to get informed. Read the news stories, pay attention to the images on the TV news and give money to those reputable agencies that provide food, clothing and shelter to these thousands of new migrants no matter where they’ve landed.

On journeys they hadn’t planned on, they sure can use some new friends.

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