On two successive October Sundays, Watertown Citizens Refugee Support Group presented 2 film events that brought home the personal side of the Syrian refugee crisis.
The first film, Salam Neighbor, was released in 2016, and reveals life in the enormous Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, to which tens of thousands of Syrians have been fleeing since 2012 when it first opened. This film was produced by 2 American filmmakers who received permission to live and film at Zaatari for one month.
Following the film, guest speaker Dr. Omar Salem of the Karam Foundation (www.karamfoundation.org) led an animated and informative discussion. Dr. Salem has led numerous missions to Syrian refugee camps, organizing free dental and medical care for children. The gathering was also honored by the surprise appearance of Dr. Salem’s colleague, Dr. Mahmoud Hariri, and his family, who arrived from Aleppo only a few weeks ago. Dr. Hariri, also known as Abdulaziz, is an esteemed trauma surgeon who will spend this next year as a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative as part of their Scholars At Risk program.
The second film presentation, Children of Syria, is a recent Frontline PBS documentary. For 3 years a film crew followed the story of four children who eventually managed to escape the incessant bombing of their Aleppo neighborhood. The family survived a treacherous trip to the Turkish border with their mother, was admitted to a Turkish refugee camp, and was finally granted permission to resettle in Germany.
Guest speaker Sami Abdullah of Eyes on Refugees (www.eyesonrefugees.org) graciously shared daunting stories from his multiple visits to refugee camps in Europe and led thought-provoking discussion. At the conclusion of both Sunday programs, attendees enjoyed sampling Middle Eastern delicacies provided by members of the Refugee Support Group.
Nearly 70 people attended the Window Into Syria film festival. Several attendees expressed the desire to get involved in helping refugees. For more information, write to WatertownCitizens@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/groups/WatertownCitizensRefugeeSupport
– submitted by Sue-Ellen Hershman-Tcherepnin