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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Southern Californian Finds Iraqi Relatives in Damascus

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | July 14th, 2008 | Comments 1 Comment »

Sant Sanati had never been out of North American before coming to Syria to assist Iraqi refugees with the Middle East Fellowship (www.MiddleEastFellowship.org). The son of Iraqi parents who was born and raised in San Diego, he never expected to meet a distant cousin while volunteering at the Greek Orthodox Church’s Iraqi refugee program.
sant.jpg
“It’s weird to be on a summer trip and run into someone related to you. The killings, death around them, bodies everywhere, not wanting their kids to through war…

“I don’t wish this on anyone, let alone my family.”

Milad Bassel Metti, a handsome, observant 25-year-old, fled Iraq two years ago this month. He works at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate assisting other refugees with food handouts, vocational training and school tutoring programs run by the church.

“God knows when he’ll leave,” Sant says of his cousin. “He wants to go. He can’t wait. He wants to go somewhere where he can settle down and get a form of stability.”

“My dad has been running a refugee service program for years. I never really approved because he didn’t bring in income. Now, I really realize what he does and why he does it. It’s like ‘wow!’

“I hope I can make a difference. I want to follow in my dad’s footsteps.

“We’ve heard a lot of stories. They did get to me. So many people, their lives were threatened. I mean, I’ve never met anyone whose daughter was kidnapped,” he says of an Iraqi artist who addressed our small group one evening. “She was a beautiful little girl when I saw her. I was like, wow, how could someone even think about putting a price on someone’s head like that?

“What are you going to say?

“What do you tell her?”
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[For more information about the Middle East Fellowship’s Damascus Summer Encounter, visit www.MiddleEastFellowship.org. For fun blogs on this year’s Encounter, visit www.SyriaSummer.org/blog.]

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One Response to “Southern Californian Finds Iraqi Relatives in Damascus”

  1. John Reinke Says:

    Hi Kelly,

    Very interesting and moving story about Sant\’s meeting his relative, an Iraqi refugee now living in Damascus, while he himself has come to help other refugees.

    The photo of him is also excellent!

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