His eyes danced, full of life. His hands moved with the fluidity of a painter and then they would stop in mid air to make point. His nerves and senses were sharp, keenly aware of everything around him. Alert and ready, he wanted to make sure that I heard him.
After a few minutes of talking to this Iraqi refugee, I knew he was intelligent, even brilliant. He told me his name and he halfway expected that I would know him. I’ll call him Rafid for the purpose of this and to protect him. And no photo.
For a year he’s been making the rounds in the refugee camp – pacing, looking to be productive. He protected the camp of about 80 others, caring for them, guarding them against those who would harm them.
He served in the Iraqi Army, helping U.S. forces after their invasion of the country. For ten years he worked as a Sergenat Major, leading young infantry men in battle.
“I am a marked man”
But to the country that he helped, there is no reciprocity. The United States has turned their back on him, his family and their plight.
He remembers the day like it was yesterday. October 30, 2014. That was the last day in his native country – the one he had fought so hard to preserve. “I will never be able to return. All I want to do is to create a future for my wife and children.”
Daesh was regularly threatening his neighbors and members of his church parish.
And as a solider, he was a marked man.
“Everyone knows who I am. They know what I did. Once Daesh found out, I would be first.”
Rafid’s legacy is leading the military unit directly charged with the hunt for Bin Laden. They scoured the mountains and plains and chased leads. Although Bin Laden was found in Pakistan, units like Rafid’s helped tighten the noose.
“The terrorists have never forgotten that. I killed them and now they would love to kill me.”
In the weeks before their flight from Iraq, they felt “pressed from all sides.” Both Sunni and Shite Muslims were in his face, calling him an infidel. And with the Al Qaeda and ISIS forces bearing down, there really was no choice. ‘
The Chill of Uncertainty
There’s another story of this soldier without a country. He’s a man changed by God. Rafid was an intense warrior, defending his homeland, rooting out the bad guys. Now, he’s defending his family, guarding them against evil.
“My faith has never been stronger. I am following God and He is not disappointing me.”
The bold statement is even more stunning when you consider his circumstance. He and his family are living in a Caritas camp, run by the Catholic Church. The trailers are called “Caravans” and are simple, but adequate guard against the sun and cold.
Thanks to readers of these posts, we were able to help purchase and deliver heaters, raised beds and bedding.
As the winter has closed in on Jordan, these gifts are warming this family. But the chill of uncertainty still hangs in the air.
They cannot go home, because they are marked.
The United States has washed their hands of this man who served side by side with them.
And the United Nations? Well…
Not a Welfare Case
Is he frustrated that things are taking so long?
“No. This is nothing. I remember the Jews wandered for 40 years. Maybe this is our journey, with the Promised Land in the end.”
Rafid promises to any country that takes him and his family that they would not be a welfare case.
“I don’t like this,” he said, looking around. “Everything is given to us. While I appreciate the safety, we want don’t want to keep asking and not being able to give. It’s not right to ask and ask and ask. We want to depend on ourselves and God.”
Rafid has a support system already in the U.S. He has a brother who is a doctor in Michigan and another sister who is a pharmacist.
“All I want is a safe place for my family.”