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Groups Reach Out to Help Syrian Refugees

Local groups are welcoming refugees to Indiana. (Karam Foundation)
Local groups are welcoming refugees to Indiana. (Karam Foundation)
December 15, 2015

INDIANA – Many states, including Indiana, are resistant to accepting Syrian refugees, but groups helping to resettle the refugees say they are trying to spread a message that these are families who need help and understanding.

Lina Sergie started the Karam Foundation in 2007. For the past few years, its focus has been on what she calls the largest humanitarian crisis in our lifetime.

Sergie says the media and rhetoric from political candidates would have people believe the refugees are terrorists, but she says they are just like anyone else – or at least, they were until they were uprooted because of violence.

"We have to imagine them as people who had full lives and communities, and schools and work – and they had stability in their lives, and that was completely turned upside down," she states.

About half of the country's governors have said they don't want Syrian refugees, and Indiana is included on that list. Some have come anyway through efforts of Catholic charities, and Gov. Mike Pence says he won't try to deny them social services such as Medicaid or food stamps.

Sergie points out many of the refugees are children, who have been torn from their homes and sent to unfamiliar places where they aren't welcome, but they haven't lost hope.

"Kids who want to learn English and Turkish, and kids who want to go to university, and they want to become something in life,” she stresses. “And they don't want this crisis and their status as refugees to define them. They're looking forward."

Sergie hopes Americans will volunteer through local Syrian organizations, or at least speak up at work or church in defense of refugee families in crisis.

In Arabic, karam means generosity, and Sergie says that's what it's all about – communities working together to help those in need.


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN