Community members have joined together in an effort to help ease the struggles of refugees in northern Iraq.
Muncie residents and refugees from Iraq, who are now settled in Muncie, hosted a charity event called “Because They Are Me” Nov. 5 at the Innovation Connector.
Proceeds of the charity event will go toward blankets, mattresses and heaters for the refugees.
At the event, a taped outline of a refugee tent was put on display to show the dimensions of the tents, which are 9 feet by 16.5 feet. The tents typically hold two to three families.
Jodi Winger, an organizer of the event, said she decided to get involved after her friend who fled Iraq in 2014 explained what the situation was like in the country.
Recently, Winger and her friend, who isn’t named for safety reasons, met a man who has been going back and forth from America and Iraq and is working with a Kurdish non-governmental organization.
The NGO worker, who isn’t named for safety reasons, has told the organizers of the charity event that “people came to me this morning and said that five children froze to death last night because they were so cold.”
This inspired Jodi Winger to help organize and host the charity event.
“You would be amazed on how the community has really come through," she said. “Seeing children who are in the same pajamas that they fled their homes in two or three years ago, that type of reality we can't ignore and can’t sit by.”
Sudad Abed, a computer science graduate student who is from Iraq, came to the charity event because the refugee crisis has affected him personally.
His family had to leave the city of Ramadi because of the Islamic State. The city has since been liberated by the Iraqi military and his family has moved back to Ramadi from the Kurdistan region.
“I am so passionate [to] come here and participate. Some people here watch [news about refugees] and they don’t know what to do to help those people,” Abed said.
Abed believes contributing to charities is a way to make an impact. He said he felt like the charity event helped people in the community learn what’s really happening, become friends with others and learn the real stories from the people who have experienced life as a refugee.
Daryl Winger, a Muncie resident and Jodi Winger’s husband, attended the charity event because he feels bad for the people.
He believes Americans should care about those people who are in those situations the same way Americans care about their own families.
“There is nothing inherently better about me that God made me be born and live in a country that isn’t falling apart currently and isn’t experiencing these things," Daryl said.
Shafik Joseph, owner of Maadi Grill, catered for the charity event. He lived in Egypt for a while and he doesn’t think Americans realize how good they have it.
“People in America are very privileged we have no idea how much [better] our life is compared to over there,” Joseph said.