This summer, the Multifaith Alliance introduced audiences to an inspiring Syrian refugee/activist who was visiting America to call attention to the Syrian refugee crisis.
He uses the pseudonym Amin Ahmed to shield his family in Syria. But while Ahmed's name is made up, his experiences are powerfully real.
In March, Amin was a featured speaker at the annual conference of major donors in Miami. That panel was organized and moderated by Georgette Bennett. This time, in June and July, The Multifaith Alliance arranged for Amin to speak to leading media outlets and gatherings of various denominations. Here's a sampling:
On June 8th, Amin Ahmed was a guest on WABC Radio's "Religion On The Line," one of America's most popular programs about faith issues. It's co-hosted by Rabbi Joseph Potasnik and Catholic Deacon Kevin McCormack. You can hear that interview on the Multifaith Alliance site at: http://www.multifaithalliance.org/#!interviews/c15uy
July 2nd, Amin Ahmed was interviewed on the nationally-syndicated public affairs radio program, "The Takeaway," hosted by noted broadcaster John Hockenberry.
In those appearances and others, Amin movingly explained that his story is about transformation.
His transformation from comfortable to displaced.
His transformation from mainstream Syrian to dissident.
His transformation from Israel's enemy to a friend of the Jewish state.
The Syrian conflict was the catalyst for these dramatic changes in Amin Ahmed's life.
When the Assad regime started its crackdown, Amin was a successful businessman in Syria. He and his comrades then secretly started aiding wounded and ill civilians. This network was eventually discovered, forcing Amin to flee Syria. Fortunately, his children had already been moved out.
Amin went to another country afterwards to organize assistance for Syrian refugees. At some point, Amin's Syrian aid network received offers of help from Israeli relief teams. That unexpected connection got Amin involved with interfaith efforts to help Syria's war victims.
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In other uplifting news, the Multifaith Alliance has grown to 35 member groups with the addition of these respected organizations: The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG); Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan; and Auburn Theological Seminary.
The New York Legal Assistance Group was created in 1990, and provides high-quality free civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers and immigrants striving for U.S. citizenship. NYLAG is now using their expertise and contacts to help Syrian refugees in Jordan, as shown further down in this newsletter.
Saint Peter's Church has pursued interfaith cooperation since 1862, when their Evangelical Lutheran congregation partnered with a Catholic businessman to hold services above a store in Midtown Manhattan. Saint Peter's has stayed in that community, and the church has long held interfaith programs with one of its valued neighbors, Central Synagogue.
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With each new member and partner, the Multifaith Alliance makes and shares contacts to benefit Syrian refugees in Jordan. Here are just two recent examples:
NYLAG introduced us to key Congressional staff members, so we could explore how the federal government might help us. Georgette Bennett had a call with a senior staffer on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and she has other discussions in the coming weeks.
Representatives of The Multifaith Alliance met with Donna McKay, executive director of Physicians For Human Rights (PHR). According to their Web site, PHR was founded in 1986 "on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to stop human rights violations." In the meeting with PHR, we discussed connecting PHR with our members and partners who work on refugee health issues.
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Again, here's a reminder that all of us pledged to raise money for this vital cause. To make it easier to contribute, we created a simple, informative donation form that can be seen at the link below or by clicking on "Donate" at our Web site, www.multifaithalliance.org. Our donation form gives examples of what different sums can pay for in Jordan, which illustrates that even small contributions matter.
Please circulate this form, so people can click and make a difference.
Now, an important final thought: please forward this newsletter to 5 people, and ask them to do the same. That will help spread the word about this crisis.
If you have questions or want to share updates, please contact Frank Kinard at firstname.lastname@example.org.