Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Die Fluechtlingen in Deutschland -- Refugees in Germany 2015

Before and After --


Whose story do you find most poignant?  How do they compare with other stories you might have been touched by?

Her's one from yesterday's Providence Journal, thanks to columnist, Mark Patinkin:

The United Nations says almost half the 400,000 refugees who’ve arrived by sea into Europe this year have come from Syria. It is said to be the world's most war-torn nation and the most devastated city there is Homs. Hundreds of thousands from Homs have become refugees.But not all who've fled that city have ended up in Europe.Here is the story of one who came instead to the United States — a story with an astonishing ending. 

His name is Abdulfattah Jandali.Many refugees from Syria are Christian — Jandali is a Muslim, one of five children, the others all sisters. His mother was a traditional housewife who took care of home and family.His father owned land and real estate and was rather authoritarian. Jandali wanted to study law in Damascus, but his dad thought Syria had too many lawyers and pushed him to pursue general studies at the prestigious American University of Beirut. Many of the current refugees from Syria have means — at least enough to pay thousands to smugglers to get out of the country.Jandali’s family could be said to be wealthy. So he had options when he decided to become a migrant himself. The unrest in the Middle East — the politics, protests and upheaval, prompted him to flee for a better life. 

But unlike many Syrians now in the news, Jandali did not choose Europe.He had the ability to make it to America, in part because he had family here. He arrived in New York and lived with a relative there who worked with the Syrian delegation at the United Nations. Jandali liked it here — he found America to be an accepting country. He resolved to make America his home and indeed, got into graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where he studied political science. There, Jandali met and began to date a Catholic girl named Carole Schieble, who grew up on a Wisconsin farm. Her father was opposed to her marrying a Syrian immigrant, so when she unexpectedly became pregnant, they decided to give the baby up for adoption. An interested couple was found — well-off, well-educated and Catholic. But when the baby turned out to be a boy, they changed their mind; they had wanted a girl. 

Another couple was found — their names were Paul and Clara. Except there was a problem. Jandali and Scheible wanted the adoptive parents to be college educated, and Paul and Clara weren’t. They were strictly working class. Paul, from Wisconsin, had never graduated high school. He served in the Coast Guard and became a machinist. But Jandali and Scheible ultimately agreed. A few months later, Scheible's father died, and she and Jandali did marry. Jandali later said they would have kept the boy had he been born then — just as they kept a girl born after named Mona — but by then, the first child was gone to another family. 

The boy's new parents, Paul and Clara, named him Steve and moved to California. There, Paul, the adoptive father, taught his son a love of mechanics. They moved to a new home in Palo Alto, where the dad set up a workbench in their garage and Steve continued tinkering there, though his new focus was electronics.  Steve never met his biological father Jandali, who immigrated here 60 years ago, in 1954, and is still alive at age 84, having worked first as a professor, then a restaurant owner, and is today vice chairman of a casino in Reno. His son Steve was raised in the Christian faith, and ultimately embraced Zen Buddhism. 

Steve also had quite a successful career. I am telling this story in this time of a global refugee crisis not to make a political statement. I frankly don't know what our policy should be on who we accept from Syria, and how many. I am just observing the complexity of the issue.  -- By pointing out that the son of Abdulfattah Jandali, a political immigrant from the Syrian city of Homs, was Steve Jobs.

Mark Patinkin, Providence Journal


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