IN DEARBORN—Almost 800 community members filled the halls of the Bint Jebail Cultural Center to help raise $200,000 to fund basic needs and education for orphaned Iraqi children.
In association with the Development and Relief Foundation, the fundraiser was the first annual dinner of the Imam Al-Sadiq Orphanage. Chuck Hage, a local resident who attended the event, said his visit with a group at the orphanage in Karbala, Iraq "broke" him.
"When you look at those kids eyes, all I could remember is that they could be my children,” Hage said. "You have to see it to believe it," he said of the orphans’ living conditions. “It gives you a different perspective to what you live for.”
Hage urged Arab and Muslim Americans to think about traveling to Iraqi orphanages, instead of taking expensive, short vacations. Hussein Nasser, a local resident who accompanied the group, said it was "a humbling experience" to engage with the orphans.
"We got to see the children and what they were learning," Nasser said. After experiencing what the children undergo, the visitors were inspired to gather community members to pool funds to equip the orphans with food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education.
The donations would give 6,000 orphans the necessities they need and provide 450 kids with quality education. "If it was not for programs like this, these orphans would be on the streets begging for money,” Nasser said.
by Hassan Khalifeh