Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Iraqi Family: Story Interrupted......

What you are is what you have been. What you'll be is what you do now. ~Buddha

First off to Everyone Who Cared for this Family,
I need to say Thank You, thank you for caring and giving with your hearts and reaching out to this family in need. I am so grateful to have met such giving people and such generous souls. I was raised by a granma that if you give with an open heart and give what is needed that you can help heal much pain in the world. I still really believe that.

Sadly the Story will remain one that has many loose ends and in many ways it is a Story Interrupted. Forces beyond me will create the ending and there will be no closure for me. I did not want to blog about this on my regular blog for safety reasons and also because it is more of a private matter, hence using my Other Blog.I also did not want to discuss any of this close to Christmas as it is heart tugging and sadly a darker tale than any of us could have known.

Mama and the Children were so very grateful for your caring and your gifts. Everything that everyone sent was delivered to them, every last shoe, sock, mitten, book, and crayon. And there were many deliveries, I went almost every day bringing them what was sent, often taking my little grocery cart stocked with blankets and pots and goodies. I was careful not to share addresses, but I always took a map and showed them Where on the Map -Which Americans sent what. I wanted them to understand that there are Warm Welcoming Americans all over the Country. In the end close to 100 people(many families) in Nine States helped take care of them. Everything was delivered, even the Complete New Baby Gift basket that had everything a New Baby needs down to itty bitty socks......Mama and the girls were so happy. Their eyes would shine brightly and gleam with wonder.

There were many trips there where all we did was work on English, naming everything in the apartment and they would try to teach me Arabic. And since I was horrible they would laugh and giggle. Other days I took them for much needed dental care and medical care and Mama for prenatal care. I also brought them many groceries and treats and tried to teach them about Holidays and American Rituals.

When it was stormy and the lights were out I brought them candles. When the baby and four of the children were sick I brought them all to the doctor and went and got them their antibiotics. And even managed to explain all of this to them in bumbling fashion how to give Breathing Treatments ( Home Nebulizer) and meds in different doses. And I even ran out at night and found a Steaming Humidifier for the baby when he was croupy. I did all of this because Mama clearly needed help. In many ways I felt like a Doting Auntie to them, and I did know that they left doting Granma's and aunties behind, so in some ways a void was filled for the family. And as much pain and loneliness as they had and have it was a void I willing adopted and understood. Other days we colored and Painted and I let them go through my bag looking for goodies. And Mama got to share of herself with sewing and cooking and photos. Bonds were formed.

I also thought that Daddy said he was trying to learn a trade, a mechanic skills, and he was rarely there. So I thought that since he was so focused that helping Mama and the children was a good thing. But I also knew that when he was around he was erratic, sometimes angry and volatile and not always rational. He was consistently disparaging of the Refugee agency and I constantly reinforced that the Agency was trying to help him get Settled and work through the whole Resettlement process.
I was worried did he suffer from a stress disorder, or was this normal stress. Should I learn more about the Resettlement Stress process ? I started researching Mental Health Issues for Refugees and also studying what was available to them for care and resources. Not only for Papa but for Mama and the Children.

I began to realize that as much as I was trying to nurture and care for all of them a Family of seven, that Papa was on his own trajectory. And his anger was all consuming and could not be negogiated at all times, and in some ways was not "New". The family was in stress. He "fired "all that tried to help him and also made clear that he would cut off contact for the mama and children whenever he wanted. Now some of this is cultural, but some of this is not. I would go there and it was clear no one was to eat until he gave permission or set the time. Other times there was not food, and he controlled the food ( as he controlled the "Card".) Other times I realized that the children and Mama were hiding what I brought them, when "gifts" and necessities cause anger, there is indeed Something very wrong. He would "fire" any translators that the Agency tried to provide. So I had to get very creative with Communication and find other ways for Mama and I to communicate. ( Computer and cellphone and reaching out to some Arabic Medical people proved incredibly important.). Also I realized that even simple things like Toilet paper and Soap were even under Papa's Control. That was when I realized that Something Was Very Wrong.

As an RN , A Nurse of many many years I have always been able to problem solve with other Team Members and even find Resources. But this situation quickly grew more worrisome. And yes I did understand that the home was not a happy home, that there were little people at stake, and Anger and Fear levels were of concern....As a nurse I did what was needed and tried to get help from the correct authorities and resources. I got Mama an emergency cellphone and I taught the children how to ask for help and who to trust. And I kept giving them much needed love and reassurance and many hugs....and that I was not just bringing them supplies and teaching them English, I was also bringing the "World" to them to their apartment.

The Anger filled Incidents became more frequent and not really safe for me even to go to the Home. I had to even be more and more careful to go there and not run into Papa. He also had his "friends" from the Mosque and Blackwater associates attempting to connect and monitor me on Facebook. And he made threats against me and my son, and even tried to come to my home. He was not rational enough to come to my home so he was not allowed in or near my home. Papa became more erratic and angry missing English classes and arguing with most trying to help the family.....Rent went unpaid and other services became problematic....

And yes eventually situations arose where I was concerned for Mama and the Children and yes, I stood up to him, you need to know that. And yes, this only made the situation worse for Mama and the Children. But I also taught those children that Men are not allowed to act Like That in this Country. It was a very ugly lesson, but I tried to teach those little girls that lesson with Courage and conviction.

But as Papa "Fired" more and more people, I knew at some point I would be cut off from them and removed from the Situation and that it would no longer be my choice to "help."...That his anger might even cause the children and Mama Misery. ( I found some of what I brought them ripped to shreds down by the Dumpster by their home.)

2 Weeks before Christmas he announced that I was no longer needed or wanted at their home and that HE was in charge of all Medical Care....And I made the decision with the Agency that it was indeed time for me to remove myself from the Situation. For exactly 2 months, I had seen them almost every single day, missing only three days. And I need to be clear that Mama had always asked me to come, that I had tried to respect their Lives and their Privacy....but that I also had tried with all of my being and an open heart and mind to help them Settle Here......But it all came to an Abrupt End...There were no Goodbyes.

So to Everyone I say Thank You and from Mama and the Children I give you much gratitude. I know they will never forget that Good Americans did reach out and care for them....and I ask that you keep them in your prayers and still send them Light and Love.

The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart. ~Buddha