Last week marked Human Rights Day. Two of the most significant achievements of the last century were our worldwide establishment of the rights of refugees and the right to education. I am writing today on behalf of a dear friend of mine, a refugee from Darfur named Guy Adam.
Guy’s parents were farmers. He had six siblings and he had to drop out of school after 4th grade to help his parents with the farm. One day in 2003 Guy’s village was attacked by members of the Janjaweed militia, a paramilitary group carrying out the genocide in the name of the Sudanese regime. Guy fled and has been missing his family ever since, not knowing if any of them are alive today, except for one brother who made it to Israel when Guy was living there in 2012. Guy had fled through Egypt to Israel where he lived for several years.
I met Guy in Israel where he was my translator for a research project I did on African asylum seekers in Israel. When Guy decided to apply to colleges in the United States, I admit I did not have any hope that he would ever obtain a visa to leave Israel, as this is very rare for the African asylum seekers there. But, with much luck, Guy was accepted to attend the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois and was miraculously given a Student Visa to pursue his educational goals.
Guy was able to obtain his visa because a few American citizens vouched for him. To do so, I had to provide the college and the visa offices with my bank account information and to agree to support Guy during his studies here while he is on the Student Visa. On this visa, Guy is not permitted to work, so I had no choice but to move forward and find ways to support his life in the United States while he applies for refugee status. Many people stepped up to help. Tamar Shertok, a friend of Guy’s from her time in Israel as well, took Guy around Chicago and helped him settle in, even taking him to visit her family during holidays and to speak at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where her sister organized a huge fundraiser for him. Together, Tamar and I created a Fundly account for people to donate. We solicited support from friends and family to help us make sure that Guy had shelter and food to eat every day. And Tamar’s sister Becca organized the large fundraiser in Wisconsin for him on her college campus. Because Guy cannot work on his visa, we cover all of his expenses: food, rent, phone bill, health insurance, medical bills and tuition.
Guy marks his one year anniversary in the US tomorrow. While the adjustment has had its ups and downs as Guy has all at once had to navigate a new country, starting college, and a new life in which he is not capable of supporting himself as he always has, Guy has worked hard and done well in his studies, and he has been helped and supported by incredible people like Alix and Jon Sherman who took Guy in during his summer vacation so he would not be alone.
The good news is that this week Guy turned in his asylum application that his pro bono attorneys have meticulously worked on for the past year. It could take another year to obtain refugee status, but once Guy obtains refugee status in the United States, he will have the resources and capacity to live his life and to be a free person. He will be able to work and to sustain his livelihood. He will be able to pursue his passions for learning and for sharing his incredible story of survival and determination with others.
Since we are not quite there yet, we are asking you for your help. We have done what we could to obtain donations from family and friends. We are writing to ask you for your support in funding Guy’s education by spreading the word to others in your network. You have given and supported Guy yourself, and we know this is not easy to do, but asking your friends, family, and colleagues to help you help Guy is another way you can make a huge difference.
Please call me to discuss or simply donate directly by mailing a check to Guy’s fiscal sponsor, Tri-Valley Cultural Jews. Your donation is tax deductible, just in time to increase your 2013 tax deductions. Here is the address:
Rabbi Judith Seid, 1817 Sinclair Drive, Pleasanton, CA 94588
** Write “Guy’s Fund” in the memo of the check**
Or you can donate online (not tax deductible) at www.fundly.com/help-a-darfuri-refugee-come-study-in-the-us.
You can also check out our website to read Guy’s full story and watch a brief video of him at www.supportguy.weebly.com.
If you have any questions please call me at 818-571-3933. Thank you so much for your help and and your support. It means the world to Guy and to all of his friends and supporters.
With deep appreciation,