Overcoming my fear of the unknown: Standing with Syrian refugees

By Marissa Roberto
February 20, 2017

Flickr / Freedom House

It has been approximately four weeks since the release of President Trump’s executive order on the national ban of immigrants and refugees from seven countries.

Catholic Relief Services, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to those in need, was founded over 70 years ago to assist World War II refugees from violence.

Today is no different than 70 years ago. There is war. There is pain and suffering. There are Syrian refugees who are in need of assistance.

CRS feels that the refugees fleeing their home are victims who are fleeing the same terrorist fear that we as Americans feel that we need to protect ourselves from.

 CRS President Sean Callahan said, “We have a moral obligation to ’welcome the stranger.’ Our faith compels us to do so. As a Catholic agency founded on the social and moral teachings of the Church, we must act based on our values, and echo the Holy Father, who said, ‘there must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity.'” 

The Syrian Refugee crisis is close to my heart.

It broke my heart. It broke my heart to read articles about falling cities and millions of people dying or displaced. It broke my heart to watch videos of adults and children trapped in a war zone, bloodied and lost.

It broke my heart to realize that my president has stopped refugees from coming to a safe-zone that is my country.

Recently, I have been thinking about the fear of letting refugees into the country. The fear of not knowing what is going to happen if America opens its borders to many from the Middle East.

I feared the unknown.

My heart breaks for the people of Syria but why did I doubt everything I feel? Why was I struck with fear all of a sudden?

These thoughts ate away my mind for days.

I took a step back. I reevaluated my thoughts, my feelings. I became frustrated. I reflected. I cried.

I doubted the unknown.

I doubted Syrian refugees. I doubted those suffering. I doubted those who need my help.

I doubted them because I listened and fell into the trap that our president set to install fear into Americans, into me.

My brain terrified my heart.

They did nothing wrong. Refugees did nothing wrong. They did not ask for their home to be destroyed. They did not ask for their government to attack its own people. They did not ask to become a refugee.

Human life is valuable. It should be cherished. It should be welcomed no matter what country, race, religion or gender one has.

Just remembering that they are human beings like you is what is most important. That a refugee has a beating heart just like you.

Do not look at them as some statistic. Look at them as a person. Look at them as a person who is in a horrible situation where they have no home, maybe no family, no access to live without constantly being in fear.

Put yourself in their shoes. Open your eyes. Educate your heart. Think with your heart. Feel with your heart. Act with your heart.

Being a CRS Student Ambassador and an American citizen, I agree that the United States should welcome with an open heart those most vulnerable and in need. Regardless of who they are or where they came from, they are human beings and deserve to be helped. Be helped by CRS. Be helped by the USA. Be helped by me.

Stand with CRS. Stand with your heart. Advocate in helping to aid the Syrian Refugee Crisis and finding long-term solutions for refugee resettlements.

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Marissa Roberto

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