Five million Syrians are refugees, and seven million are displaced in Syria and half of those are children. Most Syrian refugees remain in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. About ten percent of the refugees have fled to Europe.
In an effort to assist Syrian refugees with schooling, Interim Director of the Sister Dorothy Stang Center, James McGarry wanted to bring a few Syrian refugees on campus and support them with the Sister Dorothy Stang Scholarship fund and other campus resources.
“A local mosque (Yaseen Foundation) put us in touch with a Syrian family in Oakland who had recently arrived and have two college age daughters. I contacted them and put them in touch with NDNU admissions and came for a campus visit. I think they liked their visit and I encouraged them to apply. I think Dorothy Stang would support the refugees being that she was a major social justice advocate in Brazil.”
Notre Dame de Namur University professor Dr. Lawrence Lujan tried to receive help from Belmont City Council and help Syrian refugees.
“Last fall I got an e-mail message from Move On Organization asking if Belmont would be willing to accept Syrian refugees.Considering the social justice mission of NDNU, I thought it would be a terrific idea for us to sponsor the settling of Syrian refugees in this community. I got the okay from the President to go ahead with this and I talked to Jim McGarry, Amy Jobin, and several faculty members and students about it–Jim and Amy have contacts with the local Muslim community. I thought we could go to the Belmont City Council to set up a town hall meeting with the citizens of Belmont.”
“The Bay Area is really wealthy and people could definitely open up doors to them or donate money. Maybe there could be small families living in Bay Area residents’ homes and live with them for a short period,” said Freshman, Areli Magana.
The infrastructure in Syria has collapsed. Within Syria, healthcare, education systems, and other infrastructure have been destroyed.
“I can’t imagine what those children must be feeling and what they ask their parents about why they are leaving their home. It really is devastating that those children are starving and have dropped out of school at such a young age. I wouldn’t feel comfortable just dropping school and life and fleeing the country. If a few families came to the SIlicon Valley, maybe they could stay in the dorms here at NDNU over the summer break,” said Freshman Pablo Short shared his thoughts.
As of March 2016 James McGarry’s plans are in progress, but Professor Dr. Lawrence Lujan is still awaiting a response from Belmont City Council .