Several hundred people gathered in Portland, Maine last night to say that our governor is wrong: Maine does welcome Syrian refugees.
As my family arrived at the event organized by the Portland Racial Justice Congress, a white man sitting on his windowsill above Monument Square began shouting "Send them back! Send them back!" I impulsively yelled back: "Shut up!" and several safety monitors hurried over to admonish me not to respond. The man stopped soon afterwards and a woman at the microphone began offering a prayer (video below).
This morning when I rose it was to this post by a facebook friend sharing news from those meeting the boats full of refugees:
Huwaida Arraf with Adam Shapiro.21 hrsFriends,
Thanks so much for the great response. After last night, we are compelled to raise our fundraising goal.
Adam just got off working an early morning shift searching for and meeting boats of refugees. From 4am-11am, at least 12 boats arrived on the shores of Chios, each carrying 50+ people. Amongst those arriving was a 3 month old baby, an 8.5 month pregnant woman from Afghanistan who feared that her baby was no longer moving, an elderly Afghan man who made the journey with his stretcher, and 3 unaccompanied Iraqi siblings – 9 years old, 5 years old and 2.5 years old, who had been separated from their parents, likely by the smugglers, in Turkey. After last night, A Drop in the Ocean is nearly out of supplies (dry clothes that we try to pass out to people when they arrive) and, undoubtedly the Registration Center is going to be a cold, miserable process for those still wet, for those with small children.
The people of this island are truly wonderful and doing what they can, but more is needed. I want to describe to you what is happening without being overly critical of the international organizations that are here but I'm not sure how. For now, suffice it to say that a woman seeking a jacket for her 2 year old baby should not be turned away by a worker who doesn't understand her, under the pretext that she had already been given dry clothes (although not a jacket). A father of four who had lost all his money at sea shouldn't have to be left wondering how he is going to feed his kids (then told that after a few days, an organization will come to give out food to those that have no money. A few days!) Fleeing war and persecution and the route that these refugees have to travel is scary and dangerous enough, without also having to be humiliating.
The strength and resilience of the refugees that we are meeting is truly humbling. The 9 year old girl I mentioned earlier just crossed the Aegean Sea with her 5 year old and 2.5 year old brothers and got off the dinghy calm and collected! When her 5 year old brother started crying, she told us “he just misses our mom and dad.” These people are not seeking our charity, but rather our support and solidarity on their journey to find the safety and security that so many of us take for granted every day.
That the U.S. war machine has created millions of refugees, killed and injured millions, and orphaned millions in the endless war on "terror" was noted in last night's remarks.
I also heard from a friend last night reports that French police had raided the homes of 4,000 activists. Just as the staged events of 9/11 were the pretext to shred the U.S. Constitution (which one of last night's speakers noted protects everyone in the U.S., not just citizens).
My goals: to remain human, and to use my voice as long as I still have one.
Posted by Lisa Savage on Sunday, December 6, 2015